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One agreement down, 12 to go: Higher education completes its assignment

The omnibus higher education agreement is the first one ready for action when the Legislature reconvenes for a special session to complete its budget work. House Photography file photo

When it comes to putting biennial budgets together, the legislators focusing upon higher education are often among the first to get their homework done.

In 2019, the state’s higher education omnibus bill was the only one completed during the regular session. And now the omnibus higher education agreement is the first one ready for action when the Legislature likely reconvenes for a special session on Monday.

That’s the upshot of Wednesday’s meeting of the Higher Education Finance and Policy Working Group, where the 10 members assigned to the Higher Education Conference Committee during the 2021 session went over an agreement reached between the co-chairs — Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-New Brighton) and Sen. David Tomassoni (I-Chisholm) — and Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson.

The $3.51 billion agreement, expected to be introduced as a bill in a special session, would cap tuition increases for Minnesota State students at 3.5% over the next two academic years. It would increase funding for both the Minnesota State and University of Minnesota systems, but provide a lower total than in the previous biennium for the state’s financial aid programs, which are administered by the Office of Higher Education.

“I think we came to a compromise that worked for everyone,” Tomassoni said.

But Rep. Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake) is unhappy with how the final agreement was put together without more input from the conference committee, and that the University of Minnesota received a higher percentage of its budget request than the Minnesota State system.

“We had to go along with what leadership wanted, and I think this one worked pretty well,” Tomassoni replied. “I agree that this is not the way we want to do it, but I’m not disappointed with the outcome.”

Under the agreement, the total higher education budget for the 2022-23 biennium would be $3.51 billion. Of that, $1.58 billion would go to the Minnesota State system (45% of the higher education budget), $1.39 billion to the University of Minnesota (40%), and $546 million to the Office of Higher Education (about 16%). The Mayo Foundation would receive $2.7 million for its education programs.

Minnesota State

Minnesota State requested $120 million in new funding. The agreement’s total in new dollars is $56.4 million.

Of the $1.58 billion allocation, $1.51 billion would go to operations and maintenance and $68.2 million to central offices and shared services.

Of that operations and maintenance total:

  • $45 million would go to an overall increase in operations and maintenance funding;
  • $16 million to ISRS – Next Generation, a unified administrative technology system;
  • $11.4 million for supplemental aid to non-metro colleges;
  • $9 million for workforce development scholarships;
  • $8.2 million for the Learning Network of Minnesota;
  • $1.5 million for a mental health awareness program; and
  • $1 million for supporting students’ basic needs.

University of Minnesota

The university’s request for new funding was $46.5 million; the agreement has $38.5 million.

Of the $1.39 billion for the University of Minnesota, $1.24 billion would go to operations and maintenance and $137.4 million to state special appropriations.

Of the operations and maintenance total:

  • $38 million would go to an overall operations and maintenance increase;
  • $30 million for medical school development;
  • $15.6 million for health training restoration;
  • $8 million for the MnDrive program (a research and industry partnership); and
  • $1 million for Morris campus scholarship payment assistance.

Among state special appropriations:

  • $85.8 million would go to agriculture and extension programs;
  • $18.4 million to health sciences;
  • $16 million to the University of Minnesota/Mayo Foundation partnership;
  • $14.9 million for a “system special” category that includes six programs; and
  • $2.3 million for the Institute of Technology.

The university would also receive $4.3 million from the Health Care Access Fund for primary care education.

Office of Higher Education

Of the $546 million allocated to the Office of Higher Education, $420.1 million would go to state grant programs, while $125.9 million would go to all other OHE programs.

Among the largest appropriations for the Office of Higher Education are:

  • $29 million for the state work-study program;
  • $17 million for interstate tuition reciprocity;
  • $13.4 million for child care grants;
  • $11.8 million for the MNLink Gateway and Minitex library systems;
  • $9 million for agency administration;
  • $7 million for American Indian scholarships;
  • $6 million for spinal cord and traumatic brain injury research grants;
  • $5.2 million in additional funding for state grant programs;
  • $4 million for dual training competency grants;
  • $4 million for Fostering Independence higher education grants;
  • $3.6 million for Statewide Longitudinal Education Data Systems;
  • $3 million for an aspiring teacher of color scholarship pilot program;
  • $2.5 million for Minnesota Independence Life College and Community;
  • $2.3 million for Intervention for College Attendance Program grants;
  • $2 million for grants to underrepresented teacher candidates;
  • $1.3 million for Hennepin County Medical Center;
  • $1.1 million for College Possible;
  • $1 million for the United Family Medicine Residency Program;
  • $1 million for student teacher grants; and
  • $1 million for Direct Admissions Minnesota.

Mayo Foundation

Of the $2.7 million allocated to the Mayo Foundation, $1.4 million would go the Mayo Family and Residency program and $1.3 million to the Mayo Medical School.

Policy

The bill would also expand the “Hunger-Free Campus” designation to all public postsecondary and nonprofit private institutions and tribal colleges, and notify work-study students of eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

 

— Session Daily writer Rachel Kats contributed to this story.

 


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