St. Paul, MN–State Senator Greg Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley) was named to the leadership role of serving on the Higher Education Conference Committee. The committee is tasked with negotiating compromise language between the Senate and House Higher Education Budget bills.
Sen. Clausen who serves as the Vice-Chair of the Higher Education Committee, commented on the Senate bill. “The Senate bill is a commitment to Minnesota’s students and is a focused approach to improving Minnesota’s higher education systems,” Sen. Clausen said. “The bill invests approximately $205 million in new spending, much of it targeted to keeping tuition costs low for students, increasing the state grant programs coverage, and investing in the University of Minnesota’s Medical School.”
For Minnesota’s primary higher education systems, the Senate bill invests approximately $87 million more into the U of M, and approximately $61 million more into MnSCU. The majority of both of these investments are committed to keeping tuition costs low for students, while $25 million of the U of M investment will also go to the Medical School to help retain its national prominence and train the next generation of Minnesota’s health care professionals. It also reforms the state grant program, allowing the cap to be raised for students who currently receive aid and extending the program to cover more students.
The House bill makes a much smaller investment of $56.8 million in Minnesota’s higher education system. It shifts money away from the state grant program to cover a one year tuition freeze at MnSCU for 2016 with a 1 percent reduction in tuition for two-year degree seekers in 2017, while offering only nominal investments for two U of M campuses and no increase for the U of M Twin Cities campus.
The conference committee’s other members include Sen. Terri Bonoff, Sen. Kent Eken, Sen. Kari Dziedzic, Sen. Jeremy Miller, Rep. Bud Nornes, Rep. Marion O’Neill, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, Rep. Drew Christensen, Rep. Gene Pelowski.