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Revised Walz budget would increase Minnesota State funding, reinstate proposed program cuts

The House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee set its sights on Gov. Tim Walz’s postsecondary education budget and policy recommendations again Tuesday.

HF993, sponsored by Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-New Brighton), reflects the governor’s original budget and policy recommendations, which includes $149.6 million in increased higher education funding for the 2022-23 biennium.

“A large portion of this bill addresses the disruptions to learning that have taken place over the past year,” Bernardy said. “Our students deserve the opportunity to be successful and investments included in the budget would help make this a reality for them.”

The bill was held over for possible omnibus bill inclusion. The companion, SF975, awaits action by the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee. Sen. David Tomassoni (I-Chisholm) is the sponsor.

Members received an informational overview of the proposal last month. Since then, Minnesota Management and Budget released its February forecast, which painted a rosier picture of the state’s economic outlook.

In response, the governor revised his proposal, according to Office of Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson. While the changes aren’t reflected in HF993, Olson highlighted the updates.

To offset some of the added investments the bill includes budget reductions and program changes, such as a $6 million reduction for spinal cord and traumatic brain injury grants, $5 million for interstate tuition reciprocity and $750,000 for large animal veterinarian loan forgiveness.

Lawmakers expressed opposition to those changes during the prior meeting. Heeding their feedback, as well as other stakeholders’ input, Olson said the revised budget would reinstate those programs and appropriations.

The largest appropriations would go to the state’s public institutions’ operating and maintenance costs, with the Minnesota State system receiving, $63.5 million and the University of Minnesota receiving $46.5 million. Olson noted that the revised budget would increase Minnesota State’s operations appropriation to $75 million. 

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