When it comes to putting biennial budgets together, the legislators focusing upon higher education are often among the first to get their homework done.
In 2019, the state’s higher education omnibus bill was the only one completed during the regular session. And now the omnibus higher education agreement is the first one ready for action when the Legislature likely reconvenes for a special session on Monday.
That’s the upshot of Wednesday’s meeting of the Higher Education Finance and Policy Working Group, where the 10 members assigned to the Higher Education Conference Committee during the 2021 session went over an agreement reached between the co-chairs — Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-New Brighton) and Sen. David Tomassoni (I-Chisholm) — and Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson.
The $3.51 billion agreement, expected to be introduced as a bill in a special session, would cap tuition increases for Minnesota State students at 3.5% over the next two academic years. It would increase funding for both the Minnesota State and University of Minnesota systems, but provide a lower total than in the previous biennium for the state’s financial aid programs, which are administered by the Office of Higher Education.
“I think we came to a compromise that worked for everyone,” Tomassoni said.
But Rep. Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake) is unhappy with how the final agreement was put together without more input from the conference committee, and that the University of Minnesota received a higher percentage of its budget request than the Minnesota State system.
“We had to go along with what leadership wanted, and I think this one worked pretty well,” Tomassoni replied. “I agree that this is not the way we want to do it, but I’m not disappointed with the outcome.”
Under the agreement, the total higher education budget for the 2022-23 biennium would be $3.51 billion. Of that, $1.58 billion would go to the Minnesota State system (45% of the higher education budget), $1.39 billion to the University of Minnesota (40%), and $546 million to the Office of Higher Education (about 16%). The Mayo Foundation would receive $2.7 million for its education programs.
Minnesota State requested $120 million in new funding. The agreement’s total in new dollars is $56.4 million.
Of the $1.58 billion allocation, $1.51 billion would go to operations and maintenance and $68.2 million to central offices and shared services.
Of that operations and maintenance total:
University of Minnesota
The university’s request for new funding was $46.5 million; the agreement has $38.5 million.
Of the $1.39 billion for the University of Minnesota, $1.24 billion would go to operations and maintenance and $137.4 million to state special appropriations.
Of the operations and maintenance total:
Among state special appropriations:
The university would also receive $4.3 million from the Health Care Access Fund for primary care education.
Office of Higher Education
Of the $546 million allocated to the Office of Higher Education, $420.1 million would go to state grant programs, while $125.9 million would go to all other OHE programs.
Among the largest appropriations for the Office of Higher Education are:
Of the $2.7 million allocated to the Mayo Foundation, $1.4 million would go the Mayo Family and Residency program and $1.3 million to the Mayo Medical School.
The bill would also expand the “Hunger-Free Campus” designation to all public postsecondary and nonprofit private institutions and tribal colleges, and notify work-study students of eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
— Session Daily writer Rachel Kats contributed to this story.