House GOP passes school shift bill

Republicans in the Minnesota House have passed their plan to payback a small portion of the $2.4 billion still owed to public schools by using some of state’s rainy day fund.

The bill that passed on a 74 to 59 vote tonight would take $430 million out of budget reserves. Lawmakers delayed payments to schools to erase the last two budget deficits.

Despite a highly partisan floor debate, Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, insisted that the issue not just about politics.

“Instead of Republicans and Democrats pointing fingers at each other blaming each other for increasing debt to schools, we can now work together and argue over who gets credit for paying the money back,” Garofalo said. “So, we think this is a good direction, and it points out that Minnesota is going on the right track.”

DFL lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to payback the entire amount owed to schools without touching the reserves. Their plan would have ended tax breaks to Minnesota companies operating in other countries. Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, urged lawmakers to put students ahead of corporations.

“We have a fundamental choice of corporate tax loopholes overseas, versus funding our kids and funding our schools,” Hornstein said. “So let’s make sure we pay back schools from Alexandria to Zumbrota rather than continue corporate loopholes from Andorra to Vanuatu.”

Gov. Mark Dayton also has concerns about the GOP bill. He recently said the payback is not fiscally responsible.

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