Senate crushes bill allowing Legislature to set tuition rates
BISMARCK - State senators on Friday overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have shifted the power to set college tuition rates at North Dakota's 11 public campuses from the state Board of Higher Education to the Legislature.
BISMARCK – State senators on Friday overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have shifted the power to set college tuition rates at North Dakota’s 11 public campuses from the state Board of Higher Education to the Legislature.
House Bill 1303 failed by a 6-39 margin, with two senators absent. It passed the House 59-31 in January.
Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, and other bill sponsors had said the Legislature is often blamed for skyrocketing tuition costs and that the change was needed to better control costs and rising student debt. As an example, some pointed to the board’s decision in May 2011 to approve an 8.8 percent tuition increase for North Dakota State University just days after lawmakers adjourned after being assured campuses wouldn’t hike tuition more than 2.5 percent.
Sen. Kyle Davison, R-Fargo, who voted in favor of the Senate Education Committee’s 4-2 do-not-pass recommendation, noted that NDSU had a zero percent tuition increase the following year. He also questioned how the bill would impact the “tremendous progress” made on the higher education funding formula last session.
Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, called the bill “a flawed response to the issue of college affordability.” He said lawmakers can already cap or freeze tuition through their appropriations, and he recommended doing so in the higher education funding bill.
“But saying that the Legislature should take this duty over, out of the hands of the state Board of Higher Education, session after session, two years at a time, I think that is just a very blunt way and a very misguided way to set higher education policy,” he said.
No senators spoke in support of the bill.