On Thursday, GOP legislative leaders announced a proposal that would start to repay the 2010 and 2011 school shift payments using the state’s current budget reserve funds.
The legislation (HF 2083) would return the state to the 70/30-payment rate to school districts that was scheduled to occur in 2011.
The 2011 education payment shift was enacted as part of the budget compromise with Gov. Mark Dayton that ended the longest state government shutdown in history. The state currently has $1 billion in budget reserves. Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) has already authorized a repayment of $318 million later this month.
“A prudent course of action, when you have cash on hand, is to pay down your debt,” said bill author Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) during a Thursday news conference.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) also expressed the need to repay the shifts while the state has money in reserves.
“In just eight months, the budget outlook improved enough so that we can repay schools,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove). “We’re saying that instead of letting that cash sit in a bank account, we use it to pay back the shift. That should be our priority.”
House DFLers were skeptical of the plan, saying that the proposal merely shifts funds from one account to the other.
GOP members were quick to point out that the legislation would also go towards paying back the 2010 shift enacted by the DFL controlled legislature.
“We are repaying our shift and starting to clean up the debt the Democrats left schools under in 2010,” Garofalo said. “My hope is they will go along with us in starting payments on the portion of the debt they are responsible for passing onto our schools.”
HF 2083 will be likely be taken up on the House floor later this month as part of the omnibus education policy and finance bill.