Omnibus Higher Education Finance Bill would be largest increase in … – KIMT 3

The bill is on its way to The House of Rep. Ways and Means Committee.
MINNESOTA-DFL and GOP lawmakers on the House of Rep. Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee unanimously approved a massive higher education bill on Thursday.
Committee Chairman State Rep. Gene Pelowski said the bill would be the largest funding increase for state, universities and Tribal colleges in Minnesota’s history.
Pelowski told KIMT that lawmakers spent two months analyzing colleges’ and campus’ budget and student enrollment from the past t0 years.
The result painted a picture of a higher education system that has experienced chronic decreased student enrollment, tuition increases and structural deficits. 
The spending bill is sprawling but some of the provisions includes a one time $50 million dollar allocation to colleges’ with structural deficits, $350 million dollars to the Minnesota State College system and a freeze on tuition increases for two years, according to Pelowski.
Minnesota has not kept its promise on funding higher education, which is legally required to be at two-thirds of costs, according to Pelowski.
However, Pelowski said a new higher education model will be necessary in the future if enrollment continues to drop.
“Higher Ed. is going to have to change. Higher Ed. is going to have to go to a different model and that model is going to have to be around access and affordability and we cannot put anymore stress on the students,” Pelowski said.
Pelowski added the bill would also provide money for state grants and college programs like law enforcement and nursing. 
“We are targeting resources to areas where we know we need jobs, which I just mentioned law enforcement and nursing. We also recognized the problems we have been having with the Tribal colleges and we have invested in them heavily. So, this is the biggest increase ever in higher education in the history of the state,” Pelowski said.
Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra released a statement to KIMT that said: 
We appreciate the leadership of Chair Gene Pelowski, Chair Omar Fateh and committee members for these historic investments. This bill would position the colleges and universities of Minnesota State to respond to the critical needs of students, promote equitable student success, and provide Minnesota the talent and workforce it needs. It is a giant leap towards a more fair covenant between students and the taxpayers of Minnesota, and it moves our campuses towards a sustainable future. We are truly grateful.”
There is a companion bill in the senate but was passed out of committee along party lines, Pelowski said.
The house version of the bill will now head to the Ways and Means Committee on Monday.
You can read the full house bill here
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