The Senate passed its higher education budget on Wednesday, a $2.8 billion package that aims to hold down tuition and make public universities and colleges more accountable to the state, reported news sources.
Legislators passed the bill, which would freeze tuition for Minnesota undergraduates at the University, but proposed numerous amendments aimed at the University's spending, varying from preventing state money paying for administrative salary bonuses to raising out-of-state tuition, reported MN Daily.
The funding bill sends an additional $80 million to the state's grant program for low- and middle-income Minnesotans, gives the University of Minnesota money for a two-year freeze and bars Minnesota State Colleges and Universities from increasing tuition by more than 3 percent, reported Star Tribune.
Much of the Senate's floor debate focused on the University of Minnesota, which had been dogged by criticism of "administrative bloat" since a Wall Street Journal article in December reported that the school's administration had grown almost twice as fast as the student body in the last decade, reported Start Tribune.
Legislators need to make sure state funding is "actually used for students," said Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, on the Senate floor Wednesday, reported MN Daily.
"(President Erik Kaler) had to cut the costs, or he doesn't get the money," said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, reported Star Tribune.
Newman also proposed amending the higher education bill with what eh called the "Tubby Smith amendment" to make sure state dollars aren't being used for milti-million dollar buyouts in the University's athletics department, reported MN Daily.
Both amendments passed overwhelmingly, although the buyout provision is already part of state law, reported Star Tribune.