Monday, October 15, 2007

Weekly Update - May 11, 2007

Governor Vetoes Higher Education Omnibus Bill
Too much funding and not enough money, those were the reasons Gov. Tim Pawlenty gave for vetoing the higher education omnibus bill Wednesday.

First, the bill contained too much ongoing funding for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Meanwhile, he said the $4 million for the Achieve scholarship proposal was too little. The Achieve program was a new concept introduced last summer by Gov. Pawlenty. It awards scholarships to high school students if they take and pass such rigorous courses as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate. The higher education conference committee changed Achieve to ASPIRE (Achieve Success and Persistence through Innovative, Rigorous Education). ASPIRE would provide more opportunities to deliver rigorous courses to rural high school students and provide opportunities for those typically underrepresented in the advanced studies. Gov. Pawlenty hoped for $21 million in ongoing funds.

A final concern was a change in the makeup of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees. The conference committee altered the board to include two representatives from labor and two from business. Under the proposal, the board would still include a representative from each of the eight congressional districts and three students. The bill also calls for balancing the board with respect to racial, gender, geographic and ethnic composition.

Federal Update

Creating accountability
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings testified before the House Education and Labor committee on “Accountability for the Department of Education's Oversight of Student Loans” and the “Reading First Program” Thursday.

View Chairman Miller’s opening remarks (PDF)
View Margaret Spellings testimony (PDF)

New act in student loans
The U. S. House passed “The Student Loan Sunshine Act” by a 414-3 vote on Wednesday. The intent is to give students and families more information about various types of student loans. It also provides for more separation between institutions and lenders, specifically requiring institutions to disclose all relationships with lenders.

View summary from the Education and Labor Committee (PDF)

Local event focuses on creating innovations in the workforce
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) will hold a discussion on "Developing Minnesota’s 21st Century Workforce" on Monday, May 14, 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. The event will be held at the auditorium of Starkey Laboratories, Inc. 6425 Flying Cloud Drive, Eden Prairie. Panelists who will discuss workforce issues with Secretary Chao and Senator Coleman include: Jerry Ruzicka, president, Starkey Laboratories, Inc.; Erik Ajax, president, Ajax and Sons Metal Stamping; Steve Rothchild, founder & chair of the board, Twin Cities RISE!; and, James H. McCormick, chancellor, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Those planning to attend this event are asked to RSVP to (952) 947-4991.

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