The Minnesota Senate passed a higher education bill Thursday that makes significant cuts to the state’s colleges and universities, and caps tuition increases they can seek. The vote, largely along party lines in the Republican-led Senate, was 35 to 31.
While acknowledging that the budget cuts were noteworthy Sen. Michelle Fischbach, the Senate Higher Education Committee chair, said the legislation “does provide the institutions with some increased revenue” through tuition increases.
The legislation, she added, would also “protect students from double-digit increases.”
Under the measure, which faces a possible veto by Gov. Mark Dayton, a DFLer, the state’s two-year  colleges would have tuition increases capped at three percent annually. Tuition increases at the University of Minnesota and other four-year institutions would be capped at five percent and four percent during the next two years.
DFLers said the higher education cuts would roll back funding to the 1990s. “We are at a historic low of funding for our colleges,” said Rep. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm. Forcing the state’s colleges and universities to increasingly rely on tuition increases for revenue, he added, was making college unaffordable.
 “This is not the American dream any longer,” he added.

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