Legislative Update – Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yesterday at the Capitol

The House Capital Investment Committee heard from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities yesterday about their $198.5 million bonding request. President Joyce Helens, Student Mark Kruger, and Instructor Matt Hoepner with the Medium Heavy Truck Program at St. Cloud Technical and Community College thanked committee members for funding their Medium Heavy Truck and Auto Body capital project. T

A big thank you to Instructor Corky Rollins who drove a truck from the program down to St. Paul to illustrate to legislators the size and magnitude of the trucks students are learning to drive. The funding for the project helped renovate the facility to house the trucks. Committee members got to learn first-hand what funding capital projects means to college and university programs, faculty and students.

Trustee Elise Ristau also thanked committee members for their past funding of facilities and told members that a building’s importance is all about the effect it has on students and the opportunities they have for learning. “The building provides the laboratories, classrooms, simulation areas, and the study space needed to prepare students for the future to help keep Minnesota prosperous,” Ristau said.

Chancellor Steven Rosenstone told members that MnSCU graduates are Minnesota. “Our graduates build our homes, roads and bridges; manage our businesses; teach our children; care for our sick; are the first to respond when tragedy strikes; keep our plants humming; and farm the land that feeds us,” he said. Rosenstone emphasized that the real importance of the buildings on campus is what they enable the faculty and staff to do for students.

Brian Yolitz, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities, walked members through the 2015 bonding request before them. Yolitz told members that three principles shaped the bonding request in 2014 and now 2015; provide the practical learning spaces needed to increase student success and prepare students for jobs and careers; reduce costs by improving the efficient use of facilities, and by replacing or eliminating obsolete spaces; and ensure that Minnesota’s workforce needs are met by graduates prepared for the jobs of the future. Yolitz said, “Our request is to meet these goals by executing a $198.5 million capital investment program with $156.5 million in general obligation bond funds and $42 million in college and university resources. This work includes asset preservation and demolition as well as major projects at 15 campuses and communities.” The presentation provided to the committee is attached.

Also yesterday, House Higher Education Policy and Finance committee members heard from faculty and students about the great work of their organizations. IFO President Jim Grabowska told the committee that the Legislature’s investment in MnSCU “yields tremendous returns.” He said the IFO educates the vast amount of students in Minnesota, and that the IFO works for the economic and social progress of Minnesota’s communities. Following President Grabowska, Norm Halsa with MSCF testified on behalf of the faculty that teach at the 24 community and technical colleges around the state. Halsa told committee members that MSCF supports the mission of the two-year colleges. He went on to tell members that he, his wife and five children all graduated from a MnSCU institution and that he believes in the mission.

The student organizations also testified before the committee yesterday. MSUSA State Chair Kari Cooper informed members that the four-year student organization is a student-run organization that has been operating for over 50 years. Chair Cooper told members that affordability and a fully-funded tuition freeze is a legislative priority of the organization.  She shared with members the large amount of student debt students take on and asked members to invest in education.

Kayley Schoonmaker, President of MSCSA told members that the two-year student organization she leads is working to ensure accessible, affordable and quality education for students. She told members that many two-year students work while attending school in order to support their families. She also discussed transfer as a priority for MSCSA. She said there is a plan currently being worked on by a team through MnSCU that she hopes will help solve the need for a more transparent transfer process.

In other news yesterday, Governor Mark Dayton released his 2016-2017 budget recommendation. The details for Gov. Dayton’s budget can be found at: http://mn.gov/mmb/budget/currentbud/gov16-17/. The budget for MnSCU reads, “The Governor is committed to supporting MnSCU and its vital mission of ensuring access to an affordable, high value education to all Minnesotans and meeting the workforce needs of Minnesota. However, at this time he is concerned about the ongoing disagreement between the two faculty unions and the MnSCU administration regarding the Charting the Future initiative. The Governor is hopeful current efforts underway by the Board of Trustees and the faculty groups to get Charting the Future discussions back on a productive track are fruitful.”

The current proposal for MnSCU reads, “The Governor will make a recommendation regarding MnSCU funding in the supplemental budget released after the February 2015 forecast.”

In response to the Governor’s budget recommendation, the IFO, MSCF and MnSCU released a joint statement yesterday, “MnSCU faculty and administration pledge cooperation on Charting the Future strategic plan.” The full joint statement is attached.

Today at the Capitol
2:00 p.m.
Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development
Room: 112 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Dan Sparks
Agenda: Minnesota PIPELINE Project 2015 Progress Report, Department of Labor and Industry
S.F. 5-Bonoff: Workforce development; employees dual training competency grants program development and appropriation

Looking Ahead

Thursday, January 29

8:15 a.m.
House Education Innovation Policy
Room: Basement Hearing Room
Chair: Rep. Sondra Erickson
Agenda: Overview of statewide assessments

11:00 a.m.
Senate in Session

12:45 p.m.
House Education Finance
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Jenifer Loon
Agenda: Continuation of Governor’s Budget Proposal and Agency Requests, if needed. Public comment on Governor’s Budget.
Organizations wishing to provide comment on the Governor’s education budget proposal or state agency budget requests should contact the Committee Administrator, Jody Withers at jody.withers@house.mn.

2:00 p.m. *Note time and location change*
Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development
Room: 107 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Terri E. Bonoff
Agenda: Overview of Governor’s Budget Proposals for Higher Education
Update on the MN State Grant Program
-Report on Institutional Metrics
-Report on Part-Time Enrollment Grant for MnSCU Students

3:30 p.m.
House in Session

Monday, February 2
10:15 a.m.
House Ways and Means
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Jim Knoblach
Agenda: Minnesota Management & Budget: Presentation of Governor Dayton’s proposed $42.175 billion General Fund / $77.239 billion All Funds budget for the FY2016-17 biennium.

Tuesday, February 3
8:15 a.m.
House State Government Finance

Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Sarah Anderson
Agenda: Remarks on state insurance plans
Introduction from Minnesota Management and Budget: Myron Frans, Commissioner; Scott Anderson, State Program Administration Manager

Tuesday, February 10
4:00 p.m.
Joint Meeting: Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development; House Committee on Higher Education Policy and Finance
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chairs: Sen. Terri E. Bonoff, Rep. Bud Nornes
Agenda: Recommend nominees for the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to be presented to a Joint Convention of the Legislature.

Thank you.

Melissa Fahning
Director of Legislative Communications
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
651-201-1757 (work) 612-483-3741 (cell)

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