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By Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover), Rep. Branden Petersen (R-Andover), Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake)
We would like to express our extreme disappointment with Governor Dayton’s decision to veto a bill that would repay last year’s K-12 education payment shift. The decision to hold onto a pile of money while our schools have to borrow from banks is irresponsible governing. We would like to reiterate the comments made earlier today in response to this veto by the House of Representatives Chair of Education Finance, Representative Pat Garofalo.
Horde Cash or Pay off Debt?
By Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington)
I am disappointed that Governor Dayton chose to veto a bill that would reduce the state’s K-12 education payment shift to its lowest point since the Legislature adopted a 30 percent shift in 2010. The bill, which was rejected by the Governor on Thursday, would repay the extended shift increase passed as part of the budget agreement with Governor Dayton last year, as well as make the first repayment toward the $2 billion education shift leftover from previous Legislatures.
This measure was a matter of economic responsibility and proper prioritization. After learning that the state has a $1.2 billion total budget surplus for the current biennium, the response from many members of the Legislature was to use that money to pay back the school shift. After all, if a family pays all of their bills and finds they still have money left over, shouldn’t they use some of that money to pay down any outstanding debts?
Prudent financial management says when you have cash on hand, the first thing you do is pay off debt. Debt reduction saves money in interest costs, and leaves more money for hiring teachers, upgrading classroom equipment and other educational services.
After the MMB’s November forecast showed an $876 Million surplus, Governor Dayton responded by saying, “I am hopeful, however, that continuing improvement in that forecast will permit us to accelerate our schedule for repaying our schools the money borrowed from them last summer.” The forecast did improve, we can accelerate repaying schools, we sent him this bill to do it. He vetoed it.
After Governor Dayton and the Legislature settled on moving to a 40 percent shift in July, he publicly spoke out against it even though he signed it into law. Now Governor Dayton has vetoed a bill with a smaller education shift than he has ever proposed in his time in office. Despite his statements seeming to oppose the education shift; Governor Dayton in the last two years has both proposed the largest school shift plan and rejected the smallest.
My hope is that this bill does not die here. I will continue to work to try to convince Governor Dayton that this is the right thing to do and reach a compromise, not just for our state’s budget, but for the schools and children of Minnesota.
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