Legislature reaches agreement on higher education funding bill

by Latasha Webb

The Legislature passed a higher education bill Monday that will allocate $176 million to the University and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The University will receive approximately $110 million – $100 million less than the institution requested.

University students can expect a 13.8 percent tuition increase starting in September, University President Mark Yudof said on Tuesday at a Board of Regents meeting.

The Legislature’s allocation
disheartened University officials and DFLers.

“I voted against the bill yesterday,” said Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, a member of the Higher Education Conference Committee. “We’re just not putting Minnesota on the right track.”

Sen. Deanna Wiener, DFL-Eagan and member of the conference committee, said the bill was good but not great.

“We could’ve done better, but based on the tight spending constraints … it doesn’t look like we’re going to be spending more dollars or investing in education anymore than we are,” Wiener said.

The passage of the higher education bill leaves several other major funding bills, such as a transportation bill and a health and human services bill, in its wake. The Legislature is making progress in getting those bills passed.

Although the Health and Human Services Committee dropped language requiring a 24-hour abortion waiting period, the bill still contains language forbidding the state from funding family planning clinics that refer clients for abortions.

Ventura has stated his opposition to any abortion language, and will veto the bill if the language remains.

“The governor has a history of being pro-choice,” Carlson said. He added he hoped the House would drop the remaining abortion language from the bill.

Rep. Andy Dawkins, DFL-St. Paul, said although the governor wanted the special session to end Wednesday, “It’s more likely we’ll still be here Friday.”

“There’ll be a 24-hour push here in the next few days,” he said.


Latasha Webb welcomes comments at [email protected]