SAINT PAUL, MN—The Minnesota House passed the omnibus Higher Education conference committee report Sunday with bipartisan support on a 71-57 vote. The bill was agreed on earlier this weekend by a bipartisan group conference committee legislators representing the House and the Senate who were tasked with working out the differences between House and Senate Higher Education proposals. The bill passed the Senate earlier in the day Sunday 57-8, and now heads to the Governor where it awaits his signature.
The bill includes $100 million in increased funding for tuition relief for the Minnesota State College and Universities system, and funds a tuition freeze in 2016 and a 1% tuition reduction in 2017 at all two year MNSCU campuses, including Riverland Community College, which has a campus located in Owatonna, MN.
The bill also includes provisions aimed at boosting agriculture education, including a agriculture teacher preparation program at Southwest Minnesota State University, the development and teaching of online agriculture classes by faculty at schools that offer farm business management education, and a pilot program to help veterans transition into agriculture-related jobs.
"This bill will mean real tuition relief and lower student debt for Riverland students and thousands of other students across the state," said Rep. John Petersburg, R-Waseca. "In addition, this bill will do a great deal to boost agriculture education and help ensure thousands of Minnesotans have the skills needed to fill better-paying job openings across the state. If we match the skills to existing job openings, it will mean great opportunities for Minnesotans in jobs that will support families in all parts of Minnesota."