The House passed its Omnibus Higher Education Bill (HF 845) Monday. The bill is authored by Rep. Bud Nornes, chair of the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee. MSBA is very pleased to see this bill contains one provision we have proposed to address the teacher shortage issue in our state.
MSBA’s provision was authored by freshman legislator Rep. Peggy Bennett. Bennett’s bill (HF 1170) would establish a loan forgiveness program in hard-to-staff licensure and geographic areas. The bill would appropriate $590,000 in 2016 and $565,000 in 2017 to the Office of Higher Education to administer the program. These funds would be available for up to five years to newly licensed teachers and teachers adding a licensure field and who are teaching in an identified teacher shortage area.
The MSBA bill prevailed through four hearings in the House and two hearings in the Senate. The bill also gained the support of the Minnesota Rural Education Association (rural school districts), Education Minnesota (teachers union), the Minnesota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and a bipartisan group of co-authors.
Click here for related story from Session Daily (“House passes nearly $3 billion omnibus higher education bill”).
The Senate Omnibus Higher Education Bill (SF 5, authored by Sen. Terri Bonoff) passed off the Senate floor last week. Unfortunately, the Senate bill does not contain the teacher forgiveness loan program. A conference committee is expected to work out the differences in the bills. MSBA will continue to advocate for this approach and working toward solutions that address the teacher shortage in particular areas of the state.