Senate Republicans recently released legislation to cut $243 million from the University of Minnesota (U of M) and $167 million from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. This heavy-handed approach has led Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL Higher Education Lead) to ask where this is taking the state’s priorities.
“The best way to invest in Minnesota’s economy is by offering Minnesotans a quality and affordable advanced education,” said Sen. Pappas. “Businesses need highly trained and skilled workers. This budget will only hurt our colleges’ ability to prepare the next generation of workers. In times of adversity, our priorities rise to the top. This legislation is a clear indication that our students, future workforce and investing in the state’s economy are not priorities for the Republicans.”
In a recent economic impact study 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.
“It was bad enough that Governor Pawlenty froze funding to our colleges and universities to pay for his “no new taxes” pledge, but this budget takes his disinvestment in higher education to a whole new level,” said Sen. Pappas. “The last time we invested this little into our college students and the future of our state, the incoming freshmen were in kindergarten. We need to refocus on our priorities.”
The MnSCU system, which produces 34,700 graduates and offers customized training programs that serve an additional 179,500 employees from 6,000 Minnesota businesses each year, will be forced to look at faculty and staff reductions, enrollment caps, reductions in the size and scope of course and program offerings and reductions in student services to make up for their portion of the cuts.