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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL)

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Release: Minnesota House Adopts Higher Education Conference Committee Report

Friday, May 20, 2022

St. Paul, Minn. Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved the bipartisan Higher Education Conference Committee Report on HF 3872 a vote of 68-63. The package of $20 million in investments will go toward improvements to student affordability, equity, well-being, and research.

“Our bill is centered on the voices of students,” said Rep. Bernardy, chair of the House Higher Education Committee. “No matter where students are born, or where they live in our state, this legislation will help open doors for all Minnesotans, so they can earn a degree or the technical skills needed to succeed and thrive.” 

The conference committee report includes numerous House provisions that build on progress made in last year’s budget to expand support for student-centered initiatives, including State Grant Award Increases and grants to support underrepresented student teachers, student parent centers, hunger free campuses, MinnState Campus Support, and funds U of M Promise Scholarships.

The final legislation also addresses critical workforce shortages via investments in the governor’s Certified Nurses Assistant Training Program, Allied Health Technician Scholarships, and MinnState Workforce Development scholarships to support construction, social work, and law enforcement careers.

House DFLers were able to preserve important provisions of their original bill to expand access to higher education for more Minnesotans. The final budget will create new campus support investments at Minnesota’s three independent Tribal Colleges (Leech Lake, Red Lake & White Earth) and funding for the start of the new Inclusive Higher Education Grant program to create postsecondary opportunities for Minnesota students with intellectual disabilities. 

Finally, the higher education conference report includes a $2 million increase for the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) operated by the U of M in Duluth and Coleraine. The final agreement also increases the cap for funds coming from the Permanent University Fund that would go to support the work of NRRI and student scholarships in various fields at Duluth and at Mesabi Range. The changes result in approximately 240 more students receiving scholarships at UMD for at least the next decade, possibly longer.

Despite hard-fought efforts by House DFLers to fund a “Land of 10,000 Opportunities” free two-year college program, Senate Republicans blocked this initiative with their insistence of a smaller higher education budget target. An opportunity like this would put the promise of higher education, and an entry point to the middle class, within reach for every single child in a low- and middle-income family in Minnesota. The Senate also prevented efforts to reduce higher education’s climate impact by refusing to fund sustainability improvements and the assurance of a 50-year clean water plan for Minnesota.

“Cost should never be a barrier to accessing higher education,” said Rep. Shelly Christensen (DFL- Stillwater), vice chair of the House Higher Education Committee. “Regardless of background, everyone deserves the opportunity to follow their dreams and thrive. That’s why the House DFL is making investments on key issues that matter in education.”