ST. PAUL, Minn. – State Senator Scott Dibble, Chair of the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee expressed pleasure that, along with the payback of budget shifts to Minnesota schools, the State Airport Fund will be repaid $15 million that had twice been taken from it and placed in the General Fund. This repayment is made possible by the forecasted $1.08 billion budget surplus for fiscal year 2014-15, according to Minnesota’s Management and Budget agency.
In 2003, $15 million was transferred from the State Airport Fund to the General Fund to plug a budget hole. Despite the return of those dollars five years later, the very same transfer occurred immediately, absent any debate or scrutiny, in a private eleventh hour deal. As the primary state funding source for aeronautics, the Fund is crucial to both the capital improvements and the day-to-day operations of Minnesota’s 135 airports. The pilfering of this fund was harmful not only to airport operations, but to the trust airport users and airport communities had in state government.
Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee Chair Scott Dibble (DFL – Minneapolis) released the following statement:
“After years of mismanagement of Minnesota’s budget from poor fiscal practices that included dozens of shifts and gimmicks, the honest and transparent budget we adopted this year will allow us to fully pay back the shift from the State Airport Fund. These are dedicated revenues paid by the users of the airports system that benefit the economic competiveness of hundreds of small Minnesota communities in every corner of the state. Five years is too long for this fund to go without being restored.
I’m pleased that we’ve turned the corner, returned to fiscal sanity and have a budget surplus to show for our efforts. That hard work will get the State Airport Fund back to the level where we can know our airports are well run. Our state should be able to pride itself on the safety and efficiency of our airports so that communities all over Minnesota have important access and mobility. We can renew that pride with this repayment.”