Tim Walz Plans to Include Tuition-Free College in Budget Proposal

Tim Walz

Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz said Friday that while he is open to discussion on the topic, his administration plans to account for two years of free public college for families making under $125,000 a year in his first budget.

During a Friday appearance on TPT Almanac, Walz was asked about his support for universal Pre-K and free tuition at state schools.

“Yeah, what I want to be clear about on this and not to derail any of the openness that we have said. We’ve laid out a vision for Minnesota to have the best qualified workforce, to have the healthiest workforce, and to have an infrastructure that’s unparalleled. To get there, we’re open to having the conversation—how is the best way to make that happen? What are those outcomes going to look like?” he responded.

He believes his plan, if done “right,” could produce “savings’ on “the front end,” whether it’s in “social services or whether it’s in criminal justice.”

“I think, like anything, we’re going to work with the legislators who were sent there, we’re going to work with the stakeholder groups and decide what we can do, but it’s a priority for us. We have to have the best workforce,” Walz continued. When pressed on the matter, Walz confirmed that he plans to include the two items in his budget proposal due February.

“I believe so. We’ll have the discussion, but that’s what we’re looking at,” Walz said.

While education was not among the hot topics on the campaign trail, Walz did campaign on a free-college platform, stating on his campaign website that he would “provide two years tuition-free education at Minnesota state institutions for individuals whose families make less than 125k a year.”

According to a recent report from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, a free-college program enacted in the state for families with incomes below $125,000 would cost $264.7 million in state funding per year, though that estimate is “inclusive of all enrollment levels.”

In comparison, the report notes, the state spent $182.3 million for its Minnesota State Grant program in Fiscal Year 2016-2017. Additionally, of the 118,000 students enrolled in the state’s public institutions, 38,000 (32 percent) are considered dependent students, and would likely qualify for Walz’s free-college plan.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].







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