Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bonding bill passed by full Senate; Federal Stimulus resource; Review of occupational programs

Yesterday at the Capitol

Bonding bill passes Senate
The full Senate passed the capital investment bill on the floor yesterday with only 8 no votes. As a reminder, included in the bill for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is $90.28 million, $50 million in repair and replacement projects, and $40 million for the five vetoed projects from 2008. Those projects include $11.55 million for the health and science center addition at Lake Superior College; $5.25 million for carpentry and industrial mechanical technology shops at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College; $5.7 million for the smart classroom center at Metropolitan State University; $13.97 million for the center for business and technology at North Hennepin Community College; and $3.8 million for the system wide classroom renovation initiative at Central Lakes College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Northland Community and Technical College, Pine Technical College and Rochester Community and Technical College.

In the House, the Capital Investment committee will be hearing from finance division chairs with their committee's bonding recommendations. Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division Chair, Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, will present the higher education recommendation today at 2:45 in the basement hearing room of the State Office Building.

Federal Stimulus explained
A new resource guide to help understand the federal stimulus is available here. This guide provides an overview of all of the various state programs and the different areas of the federal grants they are administering. The document will be continually updated as more information becomes available. "Our goal is a transparent process allowing citizens to understand how and where these federal dollars are being used," said the State of Minnesota’s federal stimulus coordinator, Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget Tom Hanson. "This guide will provide citizens the most up to date information on the federal funds and how to access them." Funds are available to stabilize education funding and for workforce development.

Occupational program review
Job placement rate has some room for improvement with graduates of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The Office of the Legislative Auditor released its evaluation report of the system’s occupational programs yesterday. The major findings of the report include that the system generally does a good job of responding to employment needs and that programs are continually reviewed. Areas to improve upon include having a mission statement for colleges, more central control over employment markets and monitoring if campuses are following the state’s need, ensuring that graduates find jobs, and improving the roles of community advisory boards, to name a few. For a complete copy of the report, please visit here.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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