Hours into a special session that could end Minnesota’s state-government shutdown, legislators swiftly passed a bill that would cut funding for state colleges and universities by double-digit percentages.
The higher-education bill sailed through the Minnesota House on Tuesday night. It passed by a narrower margin in the Senate, after the bill was tweaked to reflect a budget framework agreed upon Thursday by GOP legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton.
Legislators drafted that framework into budget bills over the weekend, and began voting on the bills in a special session Tuesday night.
The budget bill for higher-education institutions was made public Tuesday morning. It contains historic funding cuts to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, which includes St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical & Community College.
The proposal would cut state funding for MnSCU by about $129 million in the next two years, or 10.6 percent relative to the 2010-2011 budget cycle.
The House passed the higher-education bill by a 71-57 vote. All St. Cloud-area representatives voted for the bill, except Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph, who voted against it.
Those voting for the measure included Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud. Banaian opposed the May version of the higher-education bill, saying it cut too deeply into state funding for colleges and universities.
The Senate passed the bill by a 35-30 margin.