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Legislative leaders say school shift pay back should be priority but...

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota governor, Gov. Mark Dayton, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Democrats, Republicans Updated: January 25, 2013 - 1:46 PM

The Democratic and Republican House leaders on Friday said they would want to undo the $1.1 billion timing shift more quickly than Gov. Mark Dayton proposed in his budget earlier this week.

But they left it unclear how they would do so or how quickly they would propose doing so.

Under Dayton's plan, the debt to schools, put in place during lean budget times and used as part of the 2011 budget deal, would not be fully repaid until 2017.

"They would like to see that paid back," House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul said. "The governor pays it back in his budget, he just does it in the next biennium and we would like to be a little more aggressive than that."

But, she said, "I'm not going to commit to paying back the entire shift in this biennium."

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, also said he was disappointed that the governor  was not more aggressive in paying back the school shift which "we feel is the number one priority."

Asked how he would pay it back without tax increases since the state is anticipating a $1 billion deficit, Daudt suggested the state could use its reserve funds and wait for the economy to pick up enough that state revenues would follow so that the shift could be reversed.  Under current law, when

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, differed from the House leaders in worrying about the school payback schedule.

"Frankly, in the last campaign, Democrats really overplayed this issue," said Hann. "This is not a high priority in the education (world)."

Hann said some Senate Republicans disagreed with him and believe school shift payback should be a priority.

In recent years, under a variety of political powers, state leaders have opted to change the timing of when they pay schools for services. When Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty was in office and Democrats held the Legislature, they shifted some of those payments to make the state budget balance. In 2011, when DFLer Dayton was in office and Republicans were in charge of the Legislature, they did it again. As the state has had extra money coming in part of those shifts have been undone.

 

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