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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dale Lueck (R)

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House approves Legacy, higher education finance bills

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

Yesterday, the House passed finance bills related to the Legacy Amendment and higher education.

The Legacy bill (H.F. 707) was received strong support passing by a 131-0 vote. Legacy funding comes from proceeds of a constitutionally dedicated sales tax passed by Minnesota voters in 2008 to support clean water, arts, and cultural heritage projects.

The House bill appropriates $527 million in clean water, the arts, and maintaining cultural heritage throughout the state. Over $100 million of the bill goes directly to restore and protect Minnesota’s water. More than $30 million will go toward protecting drinking water, while another $22 million will provide buffer aid to counties.

There also are reforms in the bill, including a 5-percent reserve within each fund, providing some insulation for the funds if economic changes impact revenue.

The higher education funding package includes a partial tuition reduction for two-year state colleges.

The bill (S.F. 2214) provides $3.2 billion for institutions of higher education in our state, a $149.5 million increase over the current funding level. This includes $1.4 billion to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, an increase of $93.6 million in 2018-19.

A main feature in the bill is a tuition freeze for two year state colleges during the 2017-18 school year and a 1-percent reduction in 2018-19. Tuition at state universities would be frozen in 2019.

Some measures of reform also are in this bill, including:

  • Requiring a public post-secondary institution to admit an applicant who is in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.
  • Establishing a workforce development scholarship to incentivize students to enter high-demand occupations after high school graduation.
  • Funding a program for student debt counseling through the Department of Education.
  • Creating student loan forgiveness programs for people who relocate to Greater Minnesota, or pursue aviation, agricultural or teaching degrees.
  • Prohibiting mandatory student activity fees at public post-secondary institutions.
  • Establishing a scholarship program for qualified teachers of color.
  • Creating an academic program for students with intellectual disabilities at Minnesota State.

Today we are working on an Agriculture Finance and Policy bills. I will get back with more on those tomorrow.



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