Senate Higher Education committee hears amendments
The Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy committee met for over three hours Wednesday evening and heard over 35 amendments to their omnibus bill with the majority coming from Democrats.
Amendments included: continuing and funding student loan counseling services; a variety of scenarios that would provide tuition cuts at Minnesota State colleges and universities; fully funding requests from Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota; funding the MN State Grant at the Governor’s recommended levels, and a series of other programs. Most amendments would have required the committee to exceed the budget target that was given to them ($100 million). Republicans held firm on the position that the omnibus bill would remain within the budget that was given to them by leadership.
The amendments that were added to the omnibus bill include:
- An author’s amendment that provided operations funding to Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota evenly over the biennium vs. the proposed 1/3-2/3 application that the systems were seeking.
- For the MN State Grant, amended the assigned family responsibility,for all student types, the assigned family contribution equals the modified contribution for that student minus $158.
- Clarified Board of Psychology Statute to provide licensure exemptions for those teaching and conducting research in a secondary, post-secondary, or graduate institution.
- Moved out the date from October 1, 2017 to February 1, 2018 for the Office of Higher Education to report on its website aggregate information on MN high school students placing into developmental education courses.
- Provided an exemption for regionally accredited nonprofit post-secondary institutions to not be subject to OHE requirements related to approval or preapproval of degree programs.
- Two items with funding modifications were approved. The increased funding was reallocated from OHE’s agency administration so the overall budget target did not increase. The changes included providing funding ($150,000 each year) for OHE to staff a campus sexual violence prevention and response coordinator to serve as a statewide resource for postsecondary institutions. In addition the funding for Summer Academic Enrichment Programs was increased from $100,000 per year to $125,000 per year.
The bill will be sent back to the revisor to incorporate changes. The next step is for the bill to heard in the Senate Finance committee on Friday at 8:30 a.m. before heading to the Senate Floor.