State officials announced today that the amount of money owed to public schools has been reduced to $238 million.
Lawmakers delayed about $2.8 billion in payments to schools over the last few years as part of previous deals to balance the state budget. They’ve been working lately to whittle that number down. An end-of-fiscal year surplus this year allowed for the latest payback of $636 million. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton credited the economy. He said the state is seeing improved employment and better-than-expected tax revenues.
“We know we have a lot of people still unemployed, still underemployed,” Dayton said. “So, we’re not resting on our laurels at all. But this is a tribute to the growth of the Minnesota economy. I thank Minnesota workers. I thank Minnesota employers for making this accelerated repayment possible.”
But minority Republicans are also claiming credit. They point out the surplus came at the end of the two-year budget they passed in 2011, when the House and Senate were under GOP control.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said the school payback was a result of his party holding the line on spending and taxes.
“We have had some very positive results,” Hann said. Ever since that budget has been passed, we have seen surpluses generated in revenue.”
DFL House and Senate leaders said they plan to make the payback of the remaining IOU to schools a priority in the 2014 session.