In St. Paul, Republicans Make Move To Pay Back Schools

Friday, March 16th, 2012 at 6:50 am

The Minnesota House has approved a Republican-backed measure to use state rainy-day funds to pay down debts owed to public schools dating back to last year’s budget fix.

The bill approved by the House would take $430 million out of the state budget reserve and return it to schools. The House approved the bill 74-59 Thursday.

The Associated Press reports that Republicans believe with state finances improving, they feel comfortable tapping into a reserve fund so schools don’t have to wait as long for catch-up payments. The state now owes more than $2 billion to schools for the fix last summer that ended the State Governement shutdown.

Democrats call the GOP strategy reckless financing that could force the state to take out short-term loans to meet its cash obligations.

Representative Pat Garofalo, a Republican from Farmington chairs the House Education Finance Committee. He says it’s only right that the state use the extra revenues projected in the latest budget forecast to re-pay school district as soon as possible. Rep. Garofalo addressed his fellow legislators on this matter:

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DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he opposes the bill. The measure has not been heard yet by a Senate committee. Democrats had been targeting that money to be spent in other programs.

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