Legislative Update: January 16, 2019

Minnesota State presented to both the Senate and House higher education committees yesterday. In the Senate, committee members learned about Minnesota State’s $246 million budget request to the Legislature this session.

Board of Trustees Chair Michael Vekich shared that while these are challenging times, he believes this is a time of opportunity for Minnesota State. “Minnesotans have made strategic investments in our human capital and our bricks and mortar. We are focused on the future. We know higher education a decade from now will look a lot different than it does today. With your help, we will be ready,” Vekich said.

Chancellor Devinder Malhotra told committee members that communities across Minnesota need colleges and universities now more than ever. He asked the committee that as they consider Minnesota State’s budget request, to understand that it is a thoughtful request that accurately reflects what partners shared with Minnesota State about what is needed.

Vice Chancellor of IT Ramon Padilla, Winona State University President Scott Olson, and Century College President Angelia Millender shared with the committee the importance of funding the $37 million Next Gen request, a critical technology replacement of the current 20-year-old outdated ISRS data system. Padilla told Senators, “We have been good stewards of the state by creating and maintaining ISRS for 20 years, but the system now prevents campuses from being competitive and puts the system in technological risk.” He continued by saying the time to act is now, before there is a crisis.

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Laura King, Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College President Kent Hanson, and Kari Christiansen, Vice President of Administrative Services at Central Lakes, also testified to the importance of funding the budget request. King said it’s important to recognize that state appropriation and tuition, the campuses two main revenue sources, work together to provide colleges and universities with 92 percent of their general fund total revenue. King said, “With state funds in recent years substituting for tuition revenue, while state funding levels have increased, the college and university revenues have not.” President Hanson and Ms. Christiansen explained in greater detail the budget challenges campuses experience and that it is imperative to fund Minnesota State’s budget request in order for campuses to protect access and affordability, improve student success and help provide financial health of every campus.

The budget presentation delivered to the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy committee can be found HERE.

In the House, Higher Education Finance and Policy committee members learned more about Minnesota State through a presentation focused on the system’s vision, mission, and goals. Chair Vekich shared with the committee that the Minnesota State Board of Trustees remains steadfast in their commitment to making good on the system’s vision of providing opportunity for all Minnesotans. He said the fifteen member Board is made up of volunteers who are committed to the success of the system, students and the communities served.

Chancellor Malhotra talked about the system’s mission: to ensure access to affordable and exceptional postsecondary education to all Minnesotans so they can become the talent Minnesota needs. Malhotra explained that to achieve this mission, everyone is focused on three guiding principles: the success of our students; diversity, equity and inclusion; and financial and programmatic sustainability. Malhotra expanded his testimony on students. He said, “I am in awe of each and every one of our students for the persistence and perseverance in staying focused on their goals. In many cases, they must overcome significant barriers to reach their dreams.”

The presentation delivered to the House Higher Education Finance and Policy committee can be found HERE.

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