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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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Bill would pay delayed K-12 funding

Friday, March 16, 2012
To the editor, I was not in favor of delaying K-12 education funds to help erase a $5.1 billion budget shortfall last year and co-authored a bill to pay off this debt now. This bill (H.F. 2083) would not only fully repay last year’s K-12 shift, it also would make a dent in delayed K-12 funds we inherited from the former Democrat majority. The bill passed the House floor recently and I encourage the governor to enact it upon receipt. Our state owes schools $2.4 billion in delayed payments; $400 million from last year and $2 billion the DFL-controlled Legislature borrowed from schools in 2010. The bill uses $430 million from our projected $1.2 billion state surplus to fully repay last year’s shift and begin paying down the K-12 shift we inherited. This opportunity exists largely because of the fiscally responsible budget we passed last year. We reduced projected spending, turned our state $6.3 billion to the better and now we are in position to start paying off debt. The state should not sit on a surplus while our schools need to borrow to cover for being shorted. Our cash-flow account would remain untouched and we would put reserve funds toward squaring up with education. I recently wrote how our state should work to restore its bond rating after all three of the top ratings firms downgraded our state’s standing. We would take a step toward rebuilding our credit by paying off K-12 debt. We have faced significant challenges during the recession and making good on our obligation to education would be another sign we are getting our state back in order. I encourage citizens to join me in supporting this bill. It is not a partisan issue; it is about doing the right thing. Sincerely, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen
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