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State lawmakers fail to fund University’s supplemental budget ask

The House and Senate conference committee passed the higher education portion of the omnibus supplemental budget bill Monday.
The Minnesota State Capitol as seen on May 13, 2013.
Image by Bridget Bennett, Daily File Photo
The Minnesota State Capitol as seen on May 13, 2013.

A joint conference committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate approved higher education allotments and policies in the supplemental finance omnibus bill Monday, but did not include any of the University of Minnesota’s request. 

The University requested $10 million in the state’s supplemental budget in March, claiming it would keep tuition flat for resident undergraduate students. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton recommended the Legislature fully fund the request in his supplemental budget proposal. 

The Legislature allotted no additional funding to the University but gave the Minnesota State system $3.5 million, less than its own $10 million request. 

Without the funding, the Board of Regents reviewed President Eric Kaler’s proposed budget last week, which calls for a two percent tuition increase for undergraduate resident students on the Twin Cities campus and a one percent increase for undergraduate resident students on the Morris campus. 

Other policy provisions included in the bill would require the University to report data on sexual harassment and assault in response to past scandals. Another provision would limit what information the Regent Candidate Advisory Council can seek about a candidate in the interview process, although bills introduced to the Legislature to entirely eliminate RCAC were not included in the omnibus bill. 

Chair of the House higher education committee Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, said the policy was a response to regent candidates who felt uncomfortable during the interview process. 

“In the past, there has been some almost extreme efforts made in the background checks, so we just think it needs to be reasonable,” Nornes said in the meeting.

Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, said the governor would likely sign onto the policy provisions in the bill, but sufficient funding was lacking. 

Pogemiller said he is unsure if a veto from Dayton is possible, but the governor’s office was disappointed by the targets laid out by the committee. 

“I did review this wording with the governor’s office, and they feel strongly about the request the governor made,” he said. 

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