Republicans in the Minnesota Senate today voted to approve a higher education budget bill that slashes funding for the state’s colleges and universities. The bill would reduce funding for the University of Minnesota by 19 percent and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system by 13 percent.
“These cuts will not only devastate Minnesota’s colleges and universities, but they will have terrible consequences for Minnesota’s economy,” said Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, the Senate DFL lead on Higher Education. “If we want Minnesota to compete in the 21st Century, we need an economy built on education and innovation. We need a strong higher education system to educate our next generation of workers, and to drive the innovation that will lead to the next generation of great Minnesota businesses.”
In total, the bill cuts $234 million from the University of Minnesota and $167 million from MnSCU. The cuts come on top of a decade of disinvestment in higher education in Minnesota. Over the past 10 years, tuition at state colleges and universities has doubled as state support for higher education has suffered steep cuts.
A recent economic impact study, by Tripp Umbach, a national leader in economic impact analyses, reported that every dollar invested in the U of M by the state generates $13.20 in the statewide economy. The proposed budget, which cuts the U of M’s budget three times and MnSCU two times as much as the governor, will reduce state funding for higher education to levels not seen since 1998. In that time, the U of M and MnSCU have added over 64,000 students.
“These cuts will have consequences beyond higher tuition and fees,” said Sen. Pappas. “As our universities and colleges work to reduce the impact these cuts will have on tuition, we will likely see faculty and staff reductions, enrollment caps, reductions in the size and scope of course and program offerings and reductions in student services. Driving down the quality of higher education and raising the cost of a college degree in Minnesota will have terrible impacts on our economy.”