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

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House approves higher education omnibus package

Friday, April 22, 2005
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota’s higher education system received a significant economic boost today after the Minnesota House of Representatives approved its $2.75 million Higher Education Finance Omnibus bill on a 73-60 vote. “Many education experts have told me ‘it’s the best higher ed bill they’ve seen in a long time,’” said Rep. Bud Nornes, chair of the Higher Education Finance Committee. “It provides much needed funding after several years of cuts.” According to the bill, both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and University systems each receive a funding increase of $102 million. The bill also leaves the state grant program intact and increases the maximum tuition, fees and related expenses that may be considered as part of the state grant program. “We’re helping students by reducing the student responsibility portion of the state grant eligibility amount from 46 percent to 45 percent,” said Nornes (R-Fergus Falls). “This bill ensures Minnesota students have access to a post-secondary education by increasing student aid and opening access to more scholarships.” About $3 million is allocated for the creation of a university in Rochester, which will be used to establish a development committee to design a proposal outlining site and facility needs, as well as course options. “Our state’s economy has been driven by our competitive advantage in education. The addition of a four-year university in Rochester is a yet another commitment to ensuring quality, post-secondary educational opportunities,” said House Speaker Steve Sviggum. “Minnesota’s future depends on a strong and accessible higher education system that attracts, retains and prepares students to become the innovative leaders of tomorrow. The funding provided today lays the foundation for that future.” The bill also eliminates the enrollment adjustment for MnSCU and the University of Minnesota; it changes the process of selection for the U of M Board of Regents; it provides additional assistance to low-income and special needs students; it offers additional grant eligibility to students who leave college for active military service; and it increases protections for students enrolled at private career schools. “It spends $205 million in new funds, which is good for our students,” Nornes said. “It’s fair to both the U of M and MnSCU systems, and dedicates funds to create strong programs in science, engineering, health care and teacher education. This package will help Minnesota remain as one of the nation’s leaders in education.”
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