ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House approved a conference committee report on higher education funding for the next two years on a bipartisan 78-54 vote Sunday, sending it to Gov. Mark Dayton for his action. The bill passed on a bipartisan 38-29 vote in the Senate earlier in the day.
Overall, the omnibus higher education finance bill (S.F. 943) provides $3.28 billion in General Fund appropriations, which marks a $210 million increase over the current biennial total. This includes $1.45 billion to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, an increase of $106 million in 2018-19.
Students at two-year colleges and four-year universities Minnesota State schools will see a tuition freeze in the 2018-19 school year.
“We’ve worked hard with the governor to pull this bill together and put it in a form we believe Governor Dayton will sign,” said Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee Chairman Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls. “The mix of tuition relief and helpful other components this bill is geared toward affordability, accountability, accessibility and research. Those are four categories where we are striving to make a difference and that is quite evident in the bill we assembled.”
In addition to the Minnesota State system, the bill also funds:
Providing loan forgiveness to agriculture educators.
Establishing a workforce development scholarship to incentivize students to enter high-demand occupations after high school graduation.
Requiring the U of M to obtain approval from an institutional review board or stem cell oversight committee before conducting research on fetal tissue.
Investing $8 million toward cancer research and increased availability of clinical trials across the state as a part of the MnDRIVE initiative. There also is $6 million for the Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program.
Establishing a scholarship program for teachers of color.
Creating an academic program for students with intellectual disabilities at Minnesota State.