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Policy Update

Legislative Update: Credit transfer bill passes the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee

The first committee deadline of the 2014 legislative session passed on Friday. Bills are required to have passed out of the policy committee to which they were referred upon introduction. Last week in the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, S.F.2771 was heard. This legislation requires the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) to create an implementation plan to improve credit transfer. Specifically, the language states the system must create a plan around the establishment of multi-institution articulation agreements aimed at creating seamless transfer pathways between system colleges and universities. 

The House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee met last week to hear the supplemental budget bill. H.F.3144 provides additional funding the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system to assist in covering costs resulting from on-going contractual negotiations. $17 million is provided for FY15 in base funding, along with an additional $14 million in future bienniums. In total, this means MnSCU would receive $31 million in new funding. Both S.F.2771 and H.F.3144 were passed out of their respective committees.

Supplemental budget discussions

Supplemental budget discussions

The 2014 legislative session continues to move rapidly. Work continues on the creation of a supplemental budget. The House Higher Education Committee will meet on Wednesday of this week to consider its version of the budget bill. At this time, the bill contains one provision which would provide $17 million to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system in Fiscal Year 2015. Language in the bill directs that the additional funding be used to cover increased costs for compensation of system employees.  

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State Legislative Movement

State Legislative Movement

The 2014 state legislative session continues to move rapidly. Thus far, the focus has surrounded a few key areas. One of those is the potential for a supplemental budget. Since the release of the state's most recent budget forecast, which showed a projected surplus of approximately $1.2 billion, legislators have been grappling with how to use those dollars. 

Also in the past week, both the House and Senate Higher Education Committees met to deal with the "Unsession bill." This legislation aims to remove unnecessary statutory language. The bill passed both committees unanimously and isn't controversial.

As always, if you have questions regarding a legislative issue, please feel free to contact the MSCSA Office at  651-297-5877.

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State Legislative Session Off to a Busy Start

State Legislative Session Off to a Busy Start

The 2014 legislative session is off to a fast start. Both the House and Senate Higher Education Committees held hearings last week. The House committee heard from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) on the system's bonding proposal. The system has proposed a number of projects on campuses across the state. The number one priority continues to be HEAPR dollars, which are used on campuses to repair current facilities. 

The Senate committee held one hearing this past week. Of note, the committee heard a proposal that has yet to be officially introduced, which seeks to address how remedial education courses are paid for by students. The proposed bill, brought forward by a group called Students for Reform in Education, would institute a shared responsibility model when it comes to who pays the costs of remedial courses taken by Minnesota high school graduates. Currently, the student pays the full cost of the remedial course. Under this new system, the student, school district, and college would all be responsible for a third of the cost.

Yesterday, the House Higher Education Committee heard from the University of Minnesota regarding their system bonding proposal. Also this week, the House committee will likely roll out their version of the "Un-session" legislation. In the Senate, the MnSCU system will present the system bonding proposal.

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2014 Minnesota Legislative Session Begins

2014 Minnesota Legislative Session Begins

The 2014 state legislative session begins Tuesday, February 25. Like most non-budget years, the major focus of the session is likely to be around the passage of a capital investment bill (also known as a bonding bill) which will fund building and repair projects around the state. The 2014 session, a short session that must adjourn by May 19, will also juggle a variety of other priorities, including the state’s projected $825 million budget surplus. Governor Dayton has additionally announced 2014 as the “unsession,” an attempt to streamline state government. State agencies including Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), have issued proposals to eliminate unnecessary and burdensome language from law.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system submitted a bonding request, which was considered as a part of Governor Dayton's bonding. The Governor recommended a total of $151.4 million in projects for MnSCU system campuses with $37 million of that being financed by campuses and the system. This number included a recommendation for $40 million in HEAPR funds, which are used to repair existing facilities. The Governor's recommendation also includes funding for 17 campus and system projects.

Moving forward, both the House and Senate Capital Investment Committees will create recommendations and a bonding bill will likely take shape at some point during the coming weeks. Unlike most legislation, a bonding bill requires a higher vote threshold to pass so the process is a bit different. The House Higher Education Committee will hold a hearing this week that will allow MnSCU and the University of Minnesota to lay out their full bonding proposals. 

There is also likely to be consideration of supplemental budget requests for state agencies. MnSCU has submitted such a proposal for consideration by the legislature and Governor. The system is asking for over $40 million in new money to be added to its current appropriation.

As always, if you have questions or concerns regarding a legislative matter, please feel free to contact the MSCSA office.

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