Governor Tim Walz rolled out the third phase of his public works plan this week, targeting higher education spending.
He made a stop on Monday at Anoka-Ramsey Community College to unveil his plan to the public.
“We’re here and proud to propose that we are investing $447 million in higher education institutions across Minnesota," said Walz.
The Governor and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan made the case for higher education spending, flanked by local legislators, University of Minnesota president, Joan Gabel and several presidents from Minnesota State schools.
“We know businesses are facing a worker shortage,” Walz said. “The critical funding would address the gap by providing 21st century education to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow.”
The higher education plan includes $224.2 million for projects at the University of Minnesota and $263.7 million for Minnesota State colleges and universities.
The Governor recommends $142.5 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funds to repair and replace buildings in the Minnesota State system, such as making renovations to Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s nursing labs and classrooms.
“Often when we come to campus to practice new skills that we have been taught in the lab, the lab space is used up by other students and we have to wait sometimes for hours,” said Anoka-Ramsey nursing student Temitope Shosanya.
Included in the bonding request, $16.2 million to update Anoka-Ramsey’s Nursing program, which is the second largest in the state. The governor toured the facilities, and heard from nursing students like Charles Osugo.
"So we have needed to go into the hallways just so that we can do the procedures and practice the skills that we need to pass our classes,” Osugo said.
Anoka-Ramsey received money in 2018, for design work on a modernized Business and Nursing building at the Coon Rapids campus. If built, it would more than double the current space for new nursing labs and learning spaces for the Nursing program.
The higher education campus improvements are part of a record two billion dollar bonding package which the Governor will give to the Legislature next month. The state has a $1.3 billion projected budget surplus, which will likely be a potential point of conflict for Minnesota’s divided Legislature and the DFL Governor. The 2020 Minnesota Legislative Session begins on February 11.