Sen. Bakk challenges Republicans to pay back our schools and create jobs
Minnesota Management and Budget recently released its February economic forecast. Senate DFL Caucus Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, issued the following statement:
“Last week, the state’s budgeting agency announced a forecasted $323 million surplus, but any claim that Minnesota is out of the red is misleading. There is no disputing the forecast is welcome news and is one indication that Minnesota’s economy is recovering. However, the bottom line shows a $1.1 billion deficit looming next year, which balloons to $4.5 billion if we count the money we owe to our schools and account for nominal inflation. Last week’s “surplus” does not change the fact that Minnesota still faces long-term, structural budget problems.
With the exception of $5 million that is dedicated to the state’s “rainy day” fund, the entire forecasted amount of $318 million is required by law to begin paying back what the Republican budget proposal withheld from Minnesota schools to end last summer’s government shutdown. Unfortunately, we have only made a small dent in what remains a $2.4 billion IOU to our school districts. Like making minimum payments on your credit card bill, it’s not fiscally responsible to carry so much unresolved debt.
Until we our pay off our past debts, do away with accounting gimmicks, and permanently address recurring future deficits, Minnesota’s economy cannot fully recover. We should take the forecast’s positive news and dedicate ourselves toward finding real solutions that will make Minnesota whole again. I challenge Republican lawmakers to spend the rest of this session paying back the Minnesotans that really balanced the state’s budget: school children and property tax payers. The legislature should start by restoring school aid payments and restoring the Homestead Property Tax Credit.
The economic forecast also assumes adequate debt service to finance a $775 million bonding bill that would invest in our state’s infrastructure and provide good jobs for up to 21,700 Minnesotans currently out of work. I join Governor Dayton in calling upon Republican leaders to set aside extreme, partisan campaign issues and pass a bonding bill, now. A positive budget forecast is no comfort to families struggling with unemployment. Getting Minnesotans back to work must be our top priority.”