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Policy Update-April 2, 2012

Capital Investment Bills move to Conference Committees

Last Friday marked the state legislature's third and final committee deadline for substantial finance and appropriation bills.

The Senate bonding bill was released Wednesday in the Capital Investment Committee. The Senate bill (SF 2577) allocated a total of over $127 million for MnSCU with $32 million going to Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) projects. The House bill includes a total of over $56 million for MnSCU including $20 million in HEAPR funding. Despite the low levels for HEAPR funding, there were several line item projects listed in MnSCU priority order included in both the House and Senate legislation. Once the bills pass on the House and Senate floor, they will go to a joint House and Senate conference committee to negotiate a final bill.

Ryan budget means cuts to Pell if passed

At the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Representative Paul Ryan's (R- WI) $3.53 trillion budget last week for the upcoming year. However, this budget is not expected to pass in the Senate. According to a Huffington Post article on the House budget, the plan proposed by Ryan (R-Wis.), who chairs the House Budget Committee, would restrict Pell grant eligibility, leading to a reduction of Pell grant funding by nearly $200 billion over the next ten years. It would also allow for the doubling of interest rates for federally subsidized Stafford loans and stop student loan interest subsidies for students while they are enrolled. Finally, this budget would make Pell funding discretionary, instead of mandatory. This provision makes the Pell vulnerable to additional cuts in the future.

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