Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Recap of Our Trip to Washington D.C.

Washington DC Trip Recap          
At three different times this last year the Pell Grant maximum award of $5,500 has been a target for destructive cuts. The latest round saw the Pell Grant as a potential item to cut during the negotiations surrounding the US debt limit increase. The US house has offered a Pell Grant cut as part of their budget. The President and the Senate are currently negotiating with the House for a package that could include up to $4 trillion in permanent spending cuts to stop the rising deficit and would raise the US debt limit.
From July 12-15 Nikki and Jonathan and I took a trip to DC to meet with the Minnesota delegation about protecting the Pell Grant. On Wednesday we were able to meet with Senator Klobuchar and Franken’s staff as well as staff people with Representatives Ellison, McCollum and Peterson. We also sat down and chatted with Representative Walz in his office. He told us of his strong support for the Pell program and continued with a story about the first time he met with IBM after being elected to Congress. Rep. Walz talked about how IBM had come in and set down three different magazine covers, one from 1972, one from 1992 and one from 2012. The 1972 cover exclaimed IBM was the company of the future and touted the company’s many successes.  The 1992 cover talked about IBM’s decline and was a much different tone than the 1972 article. The final cover was celebrating the company’s 100th anniversary and showed a positive future for the company. Rep. Walz asked the person he was meeting with what they did to get from on the brink of disaster back to a successful company and the person replied, “Investment in research and development changed our company because we knew that success was in our future creations, not in the past.” Rep. Walz said he sees investment in higher education as that same type of investment, one that will one day spur our economy and only bring us a better tomorrow.
We were also pleased to hear that Senator Franken and Representative Ellison, along with other members of Congress, were sending a letter to the President asking him to protect Pell Grants from cuts during these negotiations. A press conference was scheduled for the following Tuesday but was cancelled at the last minute due to scheduling conflicts. The letter that was sent to the President is posted on MSUSA’s blog and facebook page. Please read it and show Senator Franken your support for the Pell Program.
On Thursday we met with the staff of Representative Kline, who is currently the Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee in the House. His staff person was receptive to our material and we were able to have a good discussion, finding out that she is currently in law school.  We also met shortly with Representative Cravaack and had a great discussion about Pell and the need to protect it. We met afterwards with his staff person for quite some time and had a frank conversation about the growth in Pell and why now is the best time to invest in these grants and not cut them. We stopped by the offices of Representatives Paulsen and Bachmann to drop off our materials and let them know we were in town.  We also met with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to make the connection and see what their messaging around Pell Grant cuts has been. We met with two of their staff people and gained some very valuable information about problems other states are facing.
The debt negotiations are still going on today and the Education Trust has dubbed yesterday, July 25th, as “Save Pell” day. This is meant to bring awareness to the success of the Pell Program and remind members of Congress that we need these investments for our future generations.
Please check back for more details as the negotiations continue.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

State Government Shutdown Ends. Higher Ed Bill and Others Passed in Special Session

On Tuesday, July 19th Governor Dayton called the legislature back to work for the 2011 Special Session. This is after a flurry of activity over the weekend in which Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders came to compromise on the state budget. The bills that MSUSA has been involved in this year include higher ed, taxes and bonding. Please see the details below.

Higher Ed Highlights:

$545M per year in funding for MnSCU
  • $5M additional funding per year than the bill passed at the end of regular session
  • additional money put into operations and maintenance for use on campuses
  • Approximately 10% reduction from projected 2012-2013 spending
Tuition Cap
  • Tuition cap for MnSCU colleges for FY2013. No cap for State Universities.
$154M per year for State Grant Program
  • $10M per year increase over 2010-2011
Tax Highlights:

Reduction in renters property tax credit from 19% to 17%
  • Reduction to 17% is less severe than the original proposals from the legislature which were 12% and 15%.
Bonding Highlights:

  • The agreed-upon bonding bill is now available online. Included in the bill is $131.586 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, of which $30 million is for HEAPR, higher education asset preservation and replacement.
  • The individual projects include: $5.357 million for the fine arts building renovation at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids; $10.566 million for learning resource and student services renovation at Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie; $3.444 million to design and acquire land for a science education center at Metropolitan State University; $14.901 million for the Livingston Lord library renovation at Minnesota State University Moorhead; $21.984 million to design and construct the academic partnership center and student services building at Normandale Community College; $3 million for the Iron Range engineering program facilities at Mesabi Range Community College; and $42.334 for the integrated science and engineering laboratory facility at St. Cloud State University.
Governor Dayton is expected to sign these bills into law as soon as they are presented to him. As I type this the Legislature has passed the Higher Ed bill and Taxes with Bonding coming soon. With the passage of these bills and 9 others the MN state government will reopen and the shutdown will end.

If you have any questions about the bills for other legislative topics please email me at govrelations@msusa.org.


Penny Program: Logos and Interns and Receptions - Oh my!

$500 Reward! Penny Program 25th Anniversary Logo Contest
The Penny Program will be celebrating it's 25th Anniversary in 2012 and would like to have an eye-catching logo to use on special items for the occasion and on communications about the program. The logo contest winner will receive $500!

Only current MnSCU students may submit proposals. Proposals must be submitted by September 1st, 2011. Please send the entry from your school email account and include your name, school and phone number when applying. Submit proposals to Kari Winter. Proposals must be submitted as an EPS or JPEG file. Our goal is to choose an award winner by Friday, September 16th.


Hiring: Penny Program Development Intern

Apply now to be the Fall 2011 Penny Program Development Intern. Current and recent students from Minnesota state colleges and universities may apply. The intern will work out of the MSUSA office up to 530 hours and receive up to $4,000.


In order to acquire a high quality pool of applicants, the person who informs the hired student of this open position will receive a $25 reward.


Save the date! 24th Annual Penny Reception
The 24th Annual Penny Program Reception and Silent Auction will be held Friday, November 11th, 2011 at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Saint Paul.


Join us for a fun evening to support the Penny Program which awards MnSCU students with public service fellowships and community service scholarships. The reception will feature a silent auction, games, cash bar, hors d'oeuvres, live music, and special guest speakers. Sponsorships and group discounts are available. Invitations will be distributed soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MSUSA Goes to Washington: to fight for Pell Grant Funding

Today myself, Nikki Sabby and Jonathan Bohn met with the staff of Senators Klobuchar, Franken and Representatives McCollum, Ellison, Walz and Peterson. During these meetings we stressed the importance of the Pell Grant and discussed how cuts of this magnitude would force thousands of students from completing a higher education program.  We were pleased to find that all of the members were fully supportive of the Pell program and voted against the cuts proposed in Congress a few months ago. We were also pleased to find out that Senator Franken is sending a letter to President Obama asking him to keep the Pell Grant maximum at the current level as they negotiate these budget issues.

Tomorrow we are meeting with Representative's Kline, Cravaack, Paulsen and stopping in to Representative Bachmann's office.

The one thing that we were asked repeatedly today was if we had stories we could share of how the Pell Grant has helped students enroll in and complete a higher education degree and how cuts to the Pell Grant program would affect current students receiving the Pell Grant.  If you have a story you would like to share please email our Director of Government Relations Jonathan Bohn at govrelations@msusa.org with the details and your contact information.

Follow our trip on Facebook at www.facebook.com/msusa1967 or on twitter @msusa1967.

Alumni Association Update: June 2011 (Picnic this Sunday!)

Summer Picnic & Highland Fest, Sunday, July 17th
The Alumni Association Board would like to invite MSUSA alumni and their families to help us welcome new graduates to the Alumni Association. Join us this Sunday, July 17th, 12pm, at Rogers Lake Park (on Wagon Wheel Trail) for a picnic provided by the Alumni Association. Around 2pm, for those that are interested, we can head over to Highland Fest!
Highland Fest is free, located at Cleveland Avenue and Ford Parkway in Saint Paul, and runs from 11am-8pm. This festival features live music, an art fair, a strongman competition, live music and fair food.
RSVP's to Kari Winter at Alumni@msusa.org are appreciated, but not required.
Note: Our plans to meet at Canterbury have been canceled due to the state shutdown.

Alumni Spotlight: Kara Hadley-Shakya
Check out our most recent alumni spotlight about Kara Hadley-Shakya. Kara
was involved in MSUSA for three years, is a graduate of St. Cloud State University and currently works as an Admissions Counselor at SCSU.

Amplifying the stories of newest Minnesotans: Julia Opoti

Julia is a former MSUSA Board member and student body president at Metropolitan State University. This article about her quest to amplify the stories of the newest, and often the most challenged, Minnesotans, was recently published in the Star Tribune.

MnSCU Board of Trustees Appointment: Brett Anderson
Congratulations to Brett Anderson, MSU, Mankato student, who was recently appointed by Governor Dayton as the student representative on the MnSCU Board of Trustees until June 2013. Click here to read the press release from the Office of the Chancellor.

MSUSA Executive Director, Dave Anderson, Resigns
As of Friday, July 8th, 2011, Dave Anderson, MSUSA's Executive Director, resigned. The MSUSA Officers hope to appoint a new Executive Director by September 1st. Please watch for more details about the application process to be posted soon.

MnSCU Schools to Stay Open During Government Shutdown

MnSCU Board of Trustees Chair Scott Thiss announced on June 15th that the MnSCU system has received authorization from Governor Mark Dayton to continue normal operations during the state government shutdown. Please see the official statement from MnSCU here.
However, even after this news, we must still warn students of possible interruptions to processing financial aid and other functions that may not continue due to the government shutdown.

McCormick Student Leadership Reception, June 29th

Thank you to everyone who joined us to thank Chancellor McCormick's for his service to the students of Minnesota as he retires. MSUSA Alumni, Brad Krasaway and Justin Klander spoke during the presentation. If you were not able to attend, but would like to donate to the James H. and Maryan G. McCormick Endowed Leadership Scholarship Fund you can click here. Photos from the event can be viewed here.

Hiring: Penny Program Development Intern

Apply now to be the Fall 2011 Penny Program Development Intern. Current and recent students from Minnesota state colleges and universities may apply. The intern will work out of the MSUSA office up to 530 hours and receive up to $4,000.
In order to acquire a high quality pool of applicants, the person who informs the hired student of this open position will receive a $25 reward.

$500 Reward! Penny Program 25th Anniversary Logo Contest

Please help us to spread the word about this opportunity to students you know!
The Penny Program will be celebrating it's 25th Anniversary in 2012 and would like to have an eye-catching logo to use on special items for the occasion and on communications about the program. The logo contest winner will receive $500! Only current MnSCU students may submit proposals. Proposals must be submitted by September 1st, 2011. Please send the entry from your school email account and include your name, school and phone number when applying. Submit proposals to Kari Winter. Proposals must be submitted as an EPS or JPEG file. Our goal is to choose an award winner by Friday, September 16th.

Friday, July 1, 2011

State Government Shutdown

As many of you know by now the Minnesota State Government has officially shut down operations as of 12:00am July 1, 2011. However, MnSCU will continue to operate and classes will be held as scheduled for the remainder of the summer and will begin and operate for the fall semester if the shutdown lasts that long.

Part of the final negotiations included a $60M increase in funding for Higher Education that would have included $25M for MnSCU over the final Legislative budget proposal from May. They also included the tuition caps passed by the legislature.

Due to reasons out of our control the Governor and the Legislature were unable to reach a comprehensive budget deal and the Government will remain closed until that deal is made. If you have any further questions please visit www.bereadymn.com for more information. Also, please feel free to contact me at govrelations@msusa.org.

I'll keep you updated on any new developments in this process as I hear them.