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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Gene Pelowski, Jr. (DFL)

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Minnesota House approves Higher Education Budget Conference Committee Report

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

St. Paul, MN - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved the conference committee report on House File 2073, the state’s Higher Education Budget. With declining enrollment across higher education, the report, authored in the House by State Representative Gene Pelowski (DFL - Winona), provides a record increase in investment for Minnesota’s colleges and universities. 

The conference committee report passed on a vote of 69-62.

“Minnesotans deserve a higher education system that is affordable, accessible, and prepares them for the workforce of tomorrow,” said Rep. Pelowski, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee. “There is a great need in higher education, and this balanced budget is an appropriate response to years of disinvestment.”

The Higher Education budget for 2024-2025 funds the Office of Higher Education, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the University of Minnesota campuses, the Mayo Clinic Medical School, and Tribal Colleges. Notably, the budget provides free college to students with household income under $80,000.

“Minnesota students deserve access to the education and job training they need to get jobs with wages and benefits that will support them and their families,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Our budget addresses years of underinvestment in higher education, will improve affordability for students, and ensure our institutions are ready to prepare students for the workforce of today and the future.”

Included in the budget is a fully-funded tuition freeze at Minnesota State for two years, saving students a combined $75 million. The budget also provides $50 million in one-time funding to address structural deficits across the Minnesota State system, saving jobs and programs. 

“Our state’s colleges and universities have opened the doors of opportunity for countless Minnesotans and continue to do so today,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “It’s difficult to quantify the societal benefits our higher education institutions provide, but we know from the stories we hear from our constituents that a post-secondary degree or training can change people and entire communities for the better.”

For the University of Minnesota, the budget allocated an additional $100 million over the biennium, and fully funds the University of Minnesota’s systemwide safety and security request of $10 million in the 2024-25 fiscal year, and provides an additional $2 million per year. 

“This budget is a game-changer for students in my community at SCSU and SCTCC, and for all of the state colleges and universities throughout Minnesota,” said Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL - St. Cloud), who served on the conference committee and as Vice Chair of the House Higher Education Committee. “This historic investment will empower campuses to bolster enrollment and give students the tools and support they need to excel in a career after graduation.” 

The Higher Education budget invests $9 million per year in scholarships dedicated to assisting students who are pursuing high-demand jobs, and $13.5 million to purchase the needed equipment to better serve workforce demands. An additional $13.5 million is allocated to expand industry-specific programming. 

Additionally, the budget proposal dedicates $3 million every year to the Office of Higher Education for grants to three Tribal Colleges. $1 million to Leech Lake Tribal College, $1 million to White Earth Tribal College, and $1 million to Red Lake Nation Tribal College.

Video of today’s floor debate can be found on the House Public Information YouTube channel