Republicans in the Minnesota House are proposing to tap two thirds of the state's budget reserve to pay back a portion of a K12 school shift they used to balance the budget in 2011.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, says the measure is part of a K12 bill that will be heard in committee tomorrow. He said paying back schools with $430 million from the state's budget reserve is a better use of the money.
"If you look at accounting principles, it's better to reduce your debt and reduce your liabilities than to have that cash sitting around," Garofalo said.
A nonpartisan budget analyst in the House said the proposal could force the state to enact short-term borrowing to meet cash flow needs. DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen says they're open to the option but would prefer Republicans find a way to pay the entire $2.4 billion shift back.
"This is one way to do it and I think it deserves consideration," Thissen said. "But I also think we ought to be putting a plan in place that is paying back the school shift over time and getting that into law."
Thissen said they're proposing to eliminate a tax break for corporations that operate overseas to pay back the schools over time. Governor Dayton and GOP legislative leaders relied on the accounting trick to erase part of a $5 billion budget deficit.
The K12 school shift is expected to be a major talking point during the 2012 campaign.
At least there is some bipartisan work going on here- the schools need to be paid back. Even if it doesn't come in one lump sum. As long as the full amount is paid back in a timely fashion and this doesn't happen again, I'm fine with this. Yes, a plan needs to be put into place, but let's take the olive branch and at least give the schools something- because many are in dire need of these funds.