Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Here is an update from the Capitol.
Special session negotiations are ongoing between the legislature and Governor Dayton with some positive movement in recent weeks. As you may recall, earlier this year, the governor vetoed an overwhelmingly bipartisan tax relief bill over a one-word error that could have been fixed administratively. Transportation also failed to make its way out of the Senate after a handful of Senators forced a last-minute amendment for Southwest Light Rail onto the bill.
I am hopeful a common sense agreement can be reached so we can get meaningful tax relief to families, veterans, small businesses, college graduates and farmers in Chisago County.
Making Higher Education Affordable
I wanted to first extend a congratulations to all of our recent high school graduates and their families in Chisago County! It is an exciting time as high school grads begin the next stage of their life, and for many that means heading to college.
Higher education takes a huge bite out of family budgets, especially as the cost of tuition continues to rise. As a member of the Higher Education Committee, I have worked tirelessly to find ways to lower college costs and ensure institutions are accountable and available to Minnesota students.
Our state’s biggest school, the University of Minnesota, ranks number thirty in schools with the most out-of-state students, yet at the same time they turn away qualified in-state students. I have worked hard to push the U of M to ensure that not only are in-state and out-of-state tuition rates more balanced, but also that they are not turning away Minnesota students for other enrollees. Minnesota families pay taxes for these universities and colleges to operate, and they need to be accepting Minnesota students.
This biennium, we gave $22.2 million in tuition relief for students at the University of Minnesota. For MnSCU students, we froze tuition at two-year schools in 2016 and provided a one percent tuition reduction in 2017. For their four year schools, we froze tuition in 2017. Thanks to our hard work, many Minnesota students will see flat or reduced tuition rates this fall.
Another way to save money is through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), a very under-utilized and easy way for students to gain college credit and reduce their college debt. You can learn more about that program here and find links to see what credits will transfer for the University of Minnesota and MnSCU schools. In addition to Advanced Placement (AP) testing and Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), this provides another opportunity to gain college credit and minimize debt.
While tuition relief provided by the legislature over the past two years, as well as alternative ways to gain college credit are helpful for Minnesota students and their families, there is still a lot more work to be done. I will continue working to lower the cost of higher education in our state.
Final Email Update
Due to a 60-day post-session Campaign Finance Board rule, I will no longer be able to send out legislative updates with the latest news from the Capitol until after the November election.
Please know, however, that my office will continue to be available to assist you. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-5377 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send me a letter at 567 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155.
Have a wonderful summer!