Farmington Republican’s bill may pay a portion of school-funding shift
Opponents say it would deplete budget reserves
The Republican-controlled Legislature passed on April 2 a school shift buy-back conference committee report dedicating one-time state budget reserve dollars to pay a portion of the $2 billion school funding shift.
The legislation slates $430 million in reserves toward the buy back, leaving about $577 million left in the reserves.
Debate on the House floor was sometimes sharp, with House Education Finance Committee Chairman Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, calling Democrats “deadbeat Democrats” for opposing the buy-back.
Democrats returned fire.
“You’re out of order,” Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, said. “Your bill is out of order.”
But the bill passed the House on a 75-to-56 vote.
The tone in the Senate was gentler, with Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, warning that credit rating companies would not look favorably on the state using up its reserves.
“This definitely will hurt us,” Stumpf said.
The conference committee report passed the Senate on a 35-to-28 vote.
Democrats have proposed closing perceived tax loopholes relating to off-shore corporate assets as a means of paying back the school funding shifts.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has suggested that using the budget reserves to pay back the shifts was irresponsible.
In other education-related matters, the House passed an education policy bill, authored by Rosemount High School teacher Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, containing a provision requiring that school boards establish policies prohibiting the use of school district resources by employees to advocate for the election or defeat of any candidate for elective office, advocate the passage or defeat of any referendum question, or solicit funds for political purposes.
It stipulates the policies should not prohibit school district employees from engaging in political activities except when engaged in performing duties assigned to them under their employee contract.
Democrats have argued the legislation treads on First Amendment rights. They also criticized the legislation as being a mine field of state mandates.
T.W. Budig can be reached at email@example.com.