MN House limits spending increases for schools, holds line on higher ed

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The Minnesota House passed an education bill Monday night that frees up some extra money for school districts by refinancing loans but includes no additional money for the state's colleges and universities.

As Session Daily reports, the House bill puts $56 million saved through the refinancing provision back into K-12 schools. The measure was approved on an 84-46 vote.

The Star Tribune called it a "bare bones" education budget.

Forum News Service notes that it keeps the House and Senate on a collision course over how to adjust Minnesota's budget. The Republican-controlled House wants to hold the line on state spending and use much of the projected $900 million budget surplus on tax cuts and a package of transportation improvements.

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The $56 million saved by refinancing the loans will be used to boost teacher diversity and early learning programs, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile in the Senate, the DFL has previously proposed a $100.5 million plan (about a quarter of which would go to an expansion of voluntary pre-K), as well as another $47.7 million in higher education spending.

Rep. Gene Pelowski, the top Democrat on the House Higher Education Committee, noted in a statement that Minnesota college students carry one of the highest debt burdens in the country. Pelowski says by putting no additional funds into higher ed, the House bill will add to the debt load of students and their families.

The Pioneer Press notes that the two-year budget approved by the Legislature in 2015 did include education spending increases – $525 million for K-12 schools and $166 million for colleges and universities.

The Senate plans to take up its education bill later this week.

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