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Bill holds tuition down

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota representatives told state-run colleges and universities to hold tuition increases to a minimum the next two years.

A bill House members passed 86-46 Wednesday keeps Minnesota State Colleges and University system tuition increases to no more than 2 percent a year for the next two years. University of Minnesota tuition is capped at 3 percent annually. The vote was mostly party line, with Democrats for and Republicans against.

"The stimulus money really helped us with this bill," Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said. "Thank heavens it was there. But we did make cuts to the central office."

The MnSCU system would receive $65 million and University of Minnesota $115 million of federal funds the next two years.

Both systems would receive a bit more money than under current law -- $1.3 billion to MnSCU and $1.4 million to the University of Minnesota.

Tuitions rose in double digits in several recent years as lawmakers trimmed budgets.

Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, unsuccessfully tried to strip a provision from the bill that gives lawmakers more control over the selection of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities board members.

"I think it's unnecessary that we get involved," Nornes said.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.