House higher education budget targets double Walz’s recommendations

DFL lawmakers proposed higher education targets of around $300 million Monday.

The Minnesota State Capitol on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Tony Saunders

The Minnesota State Capitol on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Isabella Murray

Initial higher education budget numbers released by the Legislature almost double those of DFL Gov. Tim Walz. 

Budget framework and targets were released Monday by House DFL lawmakers, which includes around $305 million for in higher education funding for the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State system and the state grant program, among other stakeholders. 

“Our budget will strengthen communities across the state through honest investments to improve education opportunities, support our families and increase economic prosperity no matter where in the state you live, or what you look like,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman in a statement. 

At a House higher education committee meeting Wednesday, University Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Brian Burnett, along with regents and other administrators, made the case for the school’s $87 million budget ask.

Burnett also fielded questions from committee members about graduation rates, tuition increases and enrollment rates. 

The budget targets come after Walz announced a revised budget last week. The new proposal suggests the University receive $51 million over the next biennium, which remains $36 million below the school’s request. 

To fill this gap, Burnett said at the meeting that administration would have to ask that the Board of Regents to raise tuition above the projected two percent originally laid out in the budget proposal. 

“This funding level is not sufficient to allow for flattening or freezing of tuition and it makes it difficult to support services that students rely on like academic counseling, mental health services and other needs to be successful,” Burnett said.