Legislative Update – 1-23-13

Yesterday at the Capitol

Governor Dayton’s budget includes $80 million for MnSCU

Gov. Dayton’s budget, which was released yesterday, makes higher education a top priority and recognizes the critical role the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities play in preparing Minnesota’s workforce. Of the system’s biennial budget request of $97 million, Dayton is proposing $80 million in new funding for MnSCU, which includes:

  • $12 million for internships/apprenticeships
  • $26 million for leveraged equipment
  • $8 million for education innovations
  • $34 million for competitive salaries

In response to Dayton’s budget, MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone said, “There is outstanding alignment among the Governor’s budget, MnSCU’s funding request and the work that needs to be done to keep Minnesota competitive and put people back to work.  We appreciate the Governor’s support of our students and the communities we serve.”

Dayton’s budget proposal for MnSCU can be found at: http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/budget2013/doc/budget/narratives/gov13/mnscu/2__E+-+Budget+Books_State+Colleges+and+Universities_HTML+docs_Minnesota+State+Colleges+and+Universities.htm

Also included in Dayton’s 2014-2015 budget is $80 million in new funding for the Minnesota State Grant program. The Governor recommends changing the tuition and fee maximums, the living and miscellaneous expense allowance to reflect the actual costs faced by students, and adjusting the amount students and families are expected to pay. According to the budget documents, the adjustment to tuition and fees will better reflect the resident tuition and fees charged at 2-year and 4-year institutions. The proposal for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education can be found at: http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/budget2013/doc/budget/narratives/gov13/higher-ed/2__E+-+Budget+Books_Higher+Education_2C+Office+of_HTML+docs_AgencyProfile.htm

Overall, Dayton is calling for funding increases in a number of areas, totaling $732 million for the 2014-2015 biennium.

You may find his budget proposal at: http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/budget2013/index.php

On the revenue side, Dayton’s proposal includes reducing the sales tax rate from 6.875 percent to 5.5 percent; however, he does propose broadening the tax to goods and services that are currently exempt, including sales tax on clothing of more than $100.  He also is proposing creating a new income tax bracket on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans, while providing a rebate for the first $500 of property taxes paid going forward from 2013. His budget proposal includes reducing the corporate tax rate from 9.8 percent to 8.4 percent, dropping Minnesota’s rate from fourth to 12th highest in the nation. And he is proposing raising the cigarette tax 94 cents per pack. Dayton said the new taxes would be offset by the lower across-the-board rate, which he termed “the largest sales tax rate reduction in Minnesota history.”

Republicans responded to Gov. Dayton’s budget saying that the governor has said over the last couple of years he would only tax the wealthiest Minnesotans. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said Republicans are concerned that he’s taxing every Minnesotan with this plan.

The Governor’s budget is the first step in the budget setting process for the 2014-2015 biennium. The Legislature will spend the next remaining months of session putting together a budget that addresses the $1.1 billion deficit and the needs of Minnesota.

The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee will hear from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education on Thursday about the governor’s higher education proposals.

MnSCU requesting $148.6 million in bonding

The House Capital Investment committee heard from MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone and Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Brian Yolitz yesterday about the system’s $148.6 million bonding request, of which $90 million is for HEAPR, or asset preservation and repair.

Chancellor Rosenstone told committee members that the 54  campuses are integral parts of the economic vitality of Minnesota’s communities, providing access to higher education and job skills training across the state. Rosenstone said the system’s 850 buildings and nearly 27 million square feet represent roughly one-third of the state’s real estate and “is where the teaching and learning and job training happens.”

Rosenstone said the capital investments included in the system’s request are “focused on the infrastructure needed to advance Minnesota’s workforce, both to improve today’s learning space and support the growing need for scientists, health professionals, engineers, precision machinists, technologists and other workers that are in short supply.”

The 2013 request is made up of projects that were not funded in the 2012 legislative session, which includes $90 million in HEAPR, focused on essential repairs and renewal of existing space. Also included is $49.5 million in major projects including: $31 million for a science education center addition at Metropolitan State University; $900,000 in classroom renovation design at Rochester Community and Technical College; $3.5 million for the agricultural and main building reconfiguration at Central Lakes College; $3.1 million at Riverland Community College for reconfiguration, renovation and demolition; $5.2 million for the transportation center addition and renovation at Minnesota State Community and Technical College; and $5.8 million at Winona State University for classroom renovation.

There is also $9 million being proposed for three system initiatives; $2.5 million in STEM renovations in Bemidji, Eveleth, Grand Rapids, Moorhead and White Bear Lake; $3.7 million for system wide energy initiatives in Anoka, Canby, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and White Bear Lake; and $5.2 million for classroom renovations in Ely, Inver Grove Heights, St. Paul and White Bear Lake.

Rosenstone reminded committee members that the timing is right for MnSCU’s request, and there should be a sense of urgency because financing rates have never been better. He also reminded members of MnSCU’s track record of rapid execution on projects.

Chancellor Rosenstone provides an in-depth look at MnSCU

Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development committee members heard from Chancellor Rosenstone and Board of Trustees Vice Chair Tom Renier yesterday about governance and the strategic plan guiding the work of the colleges and universities; the students the colleges and universities serve; how MnSCU is prepared to meet Minnesota’s workforce needs; the efficiency and affordability of the system; the challenges facing Minnesota and the outcomes the colleges and universities are focused on to meet those challenges.

Trustee Renier told members that MnSCU is a tremendous state resource, and the campuses are the key to the economic success of Minnesota’s regional and local economies. “Our colleges and universities offer students from all backgrounds the opportunity to create a better future for themselves and their families,” Renier said.

Chancellor Rosenstone said, “We provide the workforce that is the engine of Minnesota’s prosperity.” He provided the example of the Mayo Clinic, sharing with members that the college in the nation with the largest number of employees at the Mayo Clinic is Rochester Community and Technical College. Healthcare professionals, such as surgical and primary care nurses, surgical technologists, clinical lab scientists, health unit coordinators, health information management specialists, nursing assistants and others are trained by the colleges and universities in the MnSCU system.

Rosenstone discussed the urgent challenges facing Minnesota, including the current skills gap; the gap in educated workers prepared for the jobs of the future; the college readiness gap and the state disinvestment in higher education. Rosenstone shared with committee members that MnSCU must help meet these pressing challenges by delivering outcomes that will advance Minnesota’s prosperity, including aligning academic programs with workforce needs; providing students with more hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment and technologies; reducing the skills gap; enhancing affordability; increasing enrollment, particularly in the underserved communities, and improving degree completion rates.

Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, asked Chancellor Rosenstone to comment on his observations about the system over the last 18 months he has spent as Chancellor. Rosenstone told members that he has learned just how much faculty really care about the success of their students; the importance of the relationship between the campus and the community it resides in; and that MnSCU is a “pretty lean operation for the number of students we are serving.”

Committee Deadlines Set

  • The following committee deadlines have been agreed to for the 2013 legislative session.

1st deadline–March 15: The first deadline is for committees to act favorably on bills in the house of origin.

2nd deadline – March 22: The second deadline is for committees to act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other house.

3rd deadline – April 19: The third deadline is for the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance to act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.

Easter/Passover Recess

The Legislature will be in recess for the Easter/Passover holidays from 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 22, 2013 through 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.

Today at the Capitol

8:15 a.m.
Joint Hearing: House and Senate Education Finance Committees
Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Paul Marquart Sen. Charles Wiger
Agenda: Governor’s FY14-15 education budget

8:15 a.m.
House Labor, Workplace, and Regulated Industries
Room: Basement State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Sheldon Johnson
Agenda: Overview and Update from the Minnesota High Tech Association

11:00 a.m.
Senate in Session

12:00 p.m.
Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division
Room: 107 Capitol
Chair: Sen. David J. Tomassoni
Agency Overviews:
1) MN Department of Employment & Economic Development
2) MN Public Utilities Commission
3) MN Department of Commerce

3:00 p.m.
Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development
Room: 112 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Dan Sparks
Agenda: Department of Labor and Industry, Department Overview and Preview of Legislative Proposals
Department of Employment and Economic Development, Department Overview and Preview of Legislative Proposals

4:00 p.m.
House Early Childhood and Youth Development
Room: 5 Staste Office Building
Chair: Rep. Carolyn Laine
Agenda: Department of Education presentation on the Office of Early Learning

Looking Ahead

Thursday, January 24

8:15 a.m.
Education Finance
Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Paul Marquart
Agenda: The Chair invites testimony on E-12 related programs/activities that fall under the committee’s goals of 1) supporting student performance and closing achievement gaps; 2) funding adequacy; 3) funding equity; 4) special education adequacy; 5) paying back the shift; and can provide data demonstrating positive outcomes.

1:00 p.m.
Legislative Audit Commission – Financial Audit Subcommittee
Room: 123 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Ann H. Rest
Agenda: Minnesota Management and Budget, Statewide Integrated Financial Tools (SWIFT)

3:00 p.m.
Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development
Room: 123 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Terri Bonoff
Agenda: Overview – Office of Higher Education – Director Pogemiller
Overview – Governor’s Budget Proposal – Director Pogemiller

3:00 p.m.
House in Session

Tuesday, January 29

3:00 p.m.
Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Campus
Chair: Sen. Terri Bonoff
Agenda: Committee Tour of University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Campus

5:00 p.m.
Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement
Room 112 Capitol
Chair:  2012 Vice-Chair Sen. Julie Rosen
Agenda: Election of 2013-2014 Commissioner Officers

Bill Introductions

Please see the attached spreadsheet for the most recent higher education related bill introductions.

Thank you.


Melissa Fahning, Director of Legislative Communication
(651) 201-1757
(612) 483-3741 cell

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