ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House passed the supplemental K-12 and Higher Education omnibus bill (HF2749) Monday with bipartisan support by a vote of 84-46. The bill re-invests $56 million of K-12 cost savings back into programs proven to boost learning outcomes for students, innovative new proposals to bring broadband to students across the state, as well as programs to reduce Minnesota's teacher shortage and increase diversity in the state's teacher workforce.
Students will save money on higher education costs through reforms that reduce the need for remedial classes, as well as a provision to increase awareness of loan forgiveness programs. The bill also expands higher education opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"Last session, we made historic investments in our students, schools and early education. This year, we are coupling that accomplishment with a number of innovative, needed reforms that will do everything from helping to alleviate teacher shortages and diversify our teaching ranks to repairing our broken teacher licensure system," said Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, Chair of the House Education Finance Committee. "Our legislation contains funding and policy provisions that address the pressing needs of students and schools across the state, offering solutions, options and flexibility."
"The focus of this bill is on students and providing them with financial assistance and opportunities," added Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee. "It was good to see this committee work together to shape a bipartisan package that will help students at public and private institutions alike."
"We are building on the historic investments and critical school choice reforms we made in Minnesota schools last session," said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. "I want to thank Chair Loon, Chair Erickson and Chair Nornes for their continued efforts to reach our shared goal of providing every Minnesota child with a world-class education."
"Minnesotans know we passed a fully-funded state budget last session, and expect us to find creative ways to fund education priorities this session without asking for more taxpayer dollars," concluded Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers. "This bill does exactly that, and preserves our budget surplus to be used for the two items still on the table from last session—middle-class tax relief and fixing our roads and bridges."
Last session, lawmakers passed a fully-funded state budget that saw $525 million in increased funding for K-12 education, and $166 million for Higher Education. The 2015 budget invested historic amounts in early education, increased per-pupil K-12 funding by 2 percent each year, and lowered tuition for thousands of students at MNSCU campuses across the state in 2017. House Republicans have also proposed tax relief for students with college debt with a first-in-the-nation tax credit for loan payments, as well as a tax credit for families who are saving for their children's higher education costs. Both provisions are under consideration as a part of the tax bill conference committee.