Gov. Walz Releases State Budget Recommendations

Yesterday, Gov. Tim Walz released his first budget proposal. The Governor is proposing a $49.5 billion budget for the next budget cycle. The current state budget that is set to expire on July 1 is $45.5 billion. Included in his budget for higher education is $157. 54 million, a 4.8 percent increase over current funding.

Specifically for Minnesota State, Walz is recommending a $51.6 million increase for the biennium, an increase of 3.6 percent. This is far short of the $246 million request from the system. The IFO is working to secure $289 million in additional investment. Of the $51.6 million, $43.6 million is for the campuses operating budgets. Walz is also recommending $8 million for Next Gen, a project that will replace the 20-year old outdated enterprise data system. The system and IFO asked for $37 million for this project. 

Governor Walz is also recommending full funding of Minnesota State’s capital budget request of $150 million in HEAPR projects across the system. Walz announced he will be proposing a $1.27 billion bonding bill this session.

The other $106 million recommended for higher education is for the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Grant program, and programs overseen by the Office of Higher Education. Under the Governor’s recommendation, the University of Minnesota would receive $39.18 million, an increase of three percent. In addition, the Governor is recommending $150 million in bonding projects for the University of Minnesota.

For the Office of Higher Education, Walz is recommending a $66.75 million increase, an increase of 13 percent. Of that amount, $54.167 million is for the State Grant program. The recommendation would increase the living and miscellaneous expenses allowance (LME) and decrease the assigned family responsibility by six percentage points. Under this proposal, the State Grant investment, combined with Federal Pell Grants, would cover the cost of tuition and fees at Minnesota State two-year colleges and four-year universities for students from families making up to $45,000 a year. There is also funding to increase communication and outreach to inform students, working adults and families about college costs and financial aid.

Walz’s budget also includes funding to, “boost college completion for returning adult students.” His proposal includes $8 million for the MN Reconnect program that helps adult learners re-enroll and complete their college education. 
He includes $2 million to expand the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLEDS), and $250,000 is included for a Summer Academic Enrichment Program. $336,000 is recommended for the Intervention for College Attendance Program (ICAP), which “provides grants to programs that foster academic success and ensure underrepresented students are prepared for college and a career.” And finally, there is $2 million recommended for Dual Training Grants, which combines on-the-job training with classroom learning.

Additionally, for K-12 education, Governor Walz is proposing to increase the general education basic formula by three percent in the first year of the biennium and two percent in the second, or $189 per student in fiscal year 2020 and an additional $130 in fiscal year 2021 – an increase of $523 million.

The Governor’s budget proposal is the starting point as legislators and the governor work to reach an agreement on a two-year budget before adjournment on May 20, 2019.

On Sunday, Gov. Walz was quoted as saying, "...I’m sure I will disappoint my friends." Unfortunately, we are disappointed friends. Gov. Walz took bold steps to increase transportation and healthcare revenue that allowed for the investments in K-12 and Higher Ed. Without this revenue in these other budget areas, we may be fighting for scraps at the end of session. 

We will continue to work hard at the Capitol to make our case for the needed additional investments to keep tuition low, restore historical funding levels for higher education, and protect you all against attacks on academic freedom. 

Please contact me at if you have any questions.