To the Editor:
In order to begin paying back schools for money borrowed by state government in previous legislative sessions, the time is right to begin reducing the debt.
Last session, the state borrowed more than $700 million in order to help eliminate a budget deficit. The previous legislative leadership borrowed $2 billion to do the very same thing. With our economy turning a corner, and with $1 billion in reserves, it's time to start paying back what we owe.
House File 2083 would repay schools $430 million to return from the current 60/40 payment schedule to the 70/30 rate it was at the start of the 2011 legislative session. It would then make the first repayment toward the shift enacted by the DFL-led Legislature in 2010.
Since last year, Minnesota has experienced a remarkable economic turnaround, as a $5.1 billion budget deficit has become a $1.2 billion surplus. The latest February forecast showed a $323 million budget surplus, and through current law, $318 million of this amount was automatically directed to buy back the 60/40 school payment shift.
There's not a lawmaker around who enjoyed borrowing from Minnesota schools. But by passing this bill, we will pay back this shift faster than anyone could have ever expected, and we'll do it without raising taxes.
The Minnesota House approved the legislation on Thursday, and it will soon be debated in the Minnesota Senate.
State Rep. Bob Gunther,