Amid State Budget Negotiations, Minnesota House Passes Higher Education Funding Bill – KNSI

(KNSI) – Though the Minnesota Legislature has yet to pass the state’s next two-year operating budget in its ongoing special session, the state House approved a higher education budget bill on Saturday.

“Our bipartisan compromise with the Senate prioritizes students by helping them overcome pandemic-related challenges now and into the future. We are committed to ensuring students are prepared to move forward in the post-pandemic workforce,” said New Brighton DFL Rep. Connie Bernardy, chair of the House’s Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee.

The budget bill includes measures authored by St. Cloud DFL Representative Dan Wolgamott, like funding Minnesota State colleges’ Z-degree programs. Z-degree programs are associate degrees that can be earned without any textbook costs for the students. Those degrees will be offered at some colleges in the Minnesota State system, including St. Cloud Technical and Community College.

Another measure in the higher ed budget introduced by Wolgamott is the Hunger Free Campus Act, which will allocate $307,000 in funding to help food-insecure college students.

“I’m proud to secure two victories for our college students by passing my legislation to make textbooks more affordable and address hunger on our campuses,” Wolgamott said. “This past year hit our college students incredibly hard, and this budget secures tools and resources to help those at St. Cloud State and St. Cloud Technical Community College learn, thrive and receive a world-class education.”

The Hunger Free Campus Act was also introduced in the Minnesota Senate earlier this year by St. Cloud DFL Sen. Aric Putnam.

The higher education funding bill allocates $271,702,000 to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education for 2022 and $274,269,000 for 2023. Other notable provisions in the bill include funding to support 12 family medicine resident physicians at St. Cloud Hospital each year and a loan repayment program for teachers.

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