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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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Friday, May 22, 2015
ST. PAUL – Legislation Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, drafted to provide partial tuition freeze for state colleges and universities as part of a higher education funding bill was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton Friday.
The bill provides $3 billion in General Fund appropriations over the next two years – a $166 million increase. This includes $1.3 billion to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, an increase of $101 million over the latest forecast in February. In the package is a tuition freeze in 2016 and a 1-percent reduction in 2017 for two-year schools. The bill also provides a tuition freeze in 2017 for four-year schools.
"Our goal throughout the process was to put students first," Nornes said. "I am pleased to see this get across the finish line, especially since there hasn't been a tuition reduction in recent history and this bill provides one. It is a long, grueling process to get a bill like this through the Legislature and into law, but that just makes it all the more satisfying when it does and you can reflect on the positives it brings."
In addition to the MnSCU, the bill also funds:
  • U of M: $1.3 billion ($53 million above Feb. forecast and $22 million for tuition relief)
  • Office of Higher Education: $467 million ($19 million below Feb. forecast)
  • Mayo: $2.7 million (even with Feb. forecast)
Policy items in the package include:
  • Conducting year-long student teaching preparation programs.
  • Providing a loan forgiveness program for teachers who work in areas deemed to have a shortage of instructors.
  • Facilitating the transfer of students between associate and bachelor's degree programs. Developing a plan to encourage students to complete work in their field of study.
  • Revamping requirements pertaining to remedial or non-credit courses.
  • Implementing new measures to respond to sexual harassment, sexual violence and sexual assault on campuses.
"Every student deserves to feel safe on their college campus," said Rep. Marion O'Neill, R-Maple Lake. "This legislation will move our state in the right direction by protecting, educating and empowering survivors of sexual assault with the ultimate goal of preventing this serious crime from ever taking place. We collaborated with student groups, the University of Minnesota, MnSCU, private colleges and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault to craft bipartisan legislation that will make a real impact on the safety of Minnesota college students, and I am pleased it passed both the House and Senate."
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