The higher education portion of our new two-year state budget is one of the first pieces to be settled as we look to have a complete plan in place before our May 18 date scheduled for adjournment.
As chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, I have remained close to this portion of the budget. The agreement we reached includes $166 million in new higher education spending. This puts total state spending for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities at $3 billion.
The House's position throughout the process has remained to provide $105 million or more in new funding to MnSCU in order to freeze tuition and, in some cases, even lower it for the first time in recent memory.
While I am pleased with the overall spending total, I do not agree with an earmark which specifies $30 million is appropriated to the U of M's medical school. I would have preferred to provide that funding to the U of M in general and let the school decide the best way to apply it.
Work in other areas of the budget remains less settled, including the two biggest portions of the state budget dollar-wise: K-12 education and health and human services.
If I have learned one thing during my tenure in the Legislature, it is that deadlines tend to produce results. Earnest efforts continue to find resolution on the overall budget and we expect to work at the Capitol through the weekend to put a plan in place.
Stay tuned and I will provide more as details become available.