On Thursday, negotiations between the Senate, House and Governor agreed upon a final budget target. The target was set at $166 million, smaller than the initial Senate proposal of $205 million and a significant increase over the initial House proposal of approximately $57 million. The Higher Education Conference Committee must now negotiate how the final bill will take shape. Those details will include what the final amount of funding for the U of M and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) systems will be. There was also an agreement to include $30 million for an investment in the University of Minnesota Medical Center, which will appear in the final bill.
As the Senate and House negotiate the final spending pieces in the legislation, it’s important to consider the provisions in the original Senate omnibus bill. They include:
- Two-year technical education at MnSCU at no cost to students who qualify based on income and who maintain the required performance standards and a dual-education apprenticeship program to provide grant money to Minnesota companies in high growth/strong demand sectors employees can attend college while they receive on the job training
- Investments in both the University of Minnesota and MnSCU systems.
- While the agreed upon budget targets include $30 million for the U of M Medical School, the Senate bill also included measures aimed at ensuring human subjects, especially our most vulnerable citizens, are protected and our research processes and procedures are implemented with the highest ethical standards.
- The Senate bill adjusts the State Grant program to increase awards to low-income students and to reach middle-class families where financial constraints limit choice and opportunity.
- Language in the Senate bill also links the investments in the systems to specific outcomes – 5% of Fiscal Year 2017’s funding for both MnSCU and the U of M is withheld unless performance metrics that assure more of our students graduate on time at a lesser cost are met.
Investing in higher education is a priority, but it must be done equitably. The Senate bill serves all students and their families. It reflects our understanding that education is the ladder up and that each and every student deserves access to an education that matches their aspirations and potential.