Legislative Update – March 14, 2018

Minnesota State supplemental budget request introduced

Chair of the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, introduced HF 3638 this week, a bill that appropriates the Board of Trustees $31 million supplemental budget request to Minnesota State. The bill appropriates $10 million in fiscal year 2019 for campus support and $21 million in fiscal year 2019 for updates to, or replacement of, the student records system, which is the Next Gen request.

Rep. Matt Bliss, R-Pennington, also introduced a bill this week that supports the Minnesota State Board of Trustees supplemental budget campus support request. The bill, HF 3637, appropriates $10 million for campus support to be allocated to the campuses.

Governor Mark Dayton will deliver his final State of the State address tonight at 7:00 p.m. before a joint session of the Minnesota House and Senate. He will likely provide a preview of his budget priorities in his speech tonight. The Governor has said he plans to release his supplemental budget recommendation Thursday.

Textbook bill heard in Senate

Senator Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, presented SF 3098 to the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee yesterday. The bill would require Minnesota State colleges and universities to use affordable textbooks in the classroom. The bill was amended to read Minnesota State will develop a plan to increase the use of affordable textbooks and instructional resources, and establish a goal for the percentage of all courses offered at state colleges and universities that will use affordable textbooks and instructional resources.

Isaac Jahraus, President of LeadMN, thanked Sen. Draheim for offering the bill and addressing the critical issue of affordability for students. He told committee members that the cost savings will have a significant and lasting impact on students’ success.

LeadMN Vice President Cecilia Damian shared with committee members that as the use of open educational resources, or OER, expands, students are provided more affordable options. She said with expensive textbooks, students can sometimes go weeks without the text until they can afford it. “The bill will allow students the opportunity to have more notice on the cost of textbooks,” Damian said. She said that not being able to afford a textbook can lead to a student dropping a course.

Ben Reimler, President of Winona State University Student Senate and Students United board member, told committee members that the high cost of textbooks has become one of the greatest problems that confronts students. He said the high cost can often become a barrier to a student’s success in college. He shared that the Winona State University student senate has identified textbook affordability as a high priority, and explained that if a student is unable to afford a textbook, they are less likely to be academically successful. Reimler shared that he’s aware of some students that have to make tough decisions and need to decide between paying for textbooks and paying their rent.

The bill, as amended, was laid over in committee.

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