By Ron VandenBoom
MSU-Northern received good news Tuesday when the House approved a bill that will provide for the issuance of $2 million in general obligation bonds for a Applied Technology Center at the school. Also approved in the same bill was $2,173,000 for upgrades to the heating and air conditioning systems in Cowan Hall.
The bill also contains $200,000 for construction and building repair for the MSU Agricultural Experiment Station south of Havre.
The bill, which at one time did not include the Applied Technology Center, will now go to the Senate for debate.
Sen. Greg Jergeson, D-Chinook, referring to the struggle representatives in the House had trying to pass the bill as "heartburn," said it is now the Senate's turn to "weigh how much funding will be included in the bill."
It is all a part of the heartburn package higher education sees itself experiencing this session of the legislature. It's a package that could put the University System at a competitive disadvantage as the cost of tuition rises and student start leaving the state to find cheaper schools in surrounding states, Jergeson said, referring specifically to North Dakota.
"We're running the risk in higher education that there will be no elasticity in college rates," he said. "We're likely to be losing a number of students to North Dakota."
It is estimated that tuition rates will increase a minimum of 10 percent if current funding levels remain for higher education.
"We don't seem to have the majority of our legislators sharing in the threat that that poses for higher education," Jergeson said.
The $2 million included in the bill for the center is $2 million less than was originally requested.