(SAINT PAUL) — Today, parents and children who are fed up with billions of dollars borrowed from schools called on state legislators to pay back their kids. They were joined by Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL – Golden Valley) and Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL – Cottage Grove), who introduced the “Pay Back Our Kids” Act, a plan to pay back the $2.2 billion in IOU’s that schools were left with after last year’s budget.
Last year, the Republican majority rejected Governor Dayton’s balanced approach to the state budget, shut down state government and instead chose to borrow record amounts from Minnesota schools. As a result, schools have been forced to borrow themselves, which takes resources from the classroom that could be spent to reduce class sizes or other investments to boost student achievement.
“Rather than close corporate loopholes or ask the richest 2 percent to pay their fair share, Republicans chose to hand Minnesota kids a $2.2 billion IOU,” said Winkler. “We can make a different choice. It’s time to do the right thing and pay back our kids instead of giving tax breaks to corporations that hide their earnings offshore.”
The “Pay Back Our Kids Act” would repay the $2.2 billion in school borrowing in less than 6 years by closing corporate tax loopholes, including a loophole that allows corporations to shelter earnings offshore. Under this bill, corporations would no longer be able to shelter earnings in offshore countries such as the Cayman Islands as they are allowed to under current law.
“Politicians always say that education is their priority; here’s a chance to prove it,” said Sen. Sieben. “I’m authoring this proposal because it begins to pay back what Republicans chose to borrow from Minnesota schools to end last year’s government shutdown. Closing tax loopholes on corporations hiding money overseas is just common sense. This bill is about priorities.”
As a result of massive IOU’s, parents and children have had to watch their schools struggle, turn to local property taxpayers for additional levies, and take out loans for operating expenses. For example, Anoka-Hennepin School District was forced to borrow $42.8 million this past year due to record borrowing at the state level. A survey of Minnesota school districts last fall showed that two-thirds of metro school districts were in the same situation.
Minnesota’s once nation-leading education system has slipped. Minnesota now ranks 47th and 49th in elementary class sizes and is among the top 10 states making the deepest cuts to education. Finally, each Minnesota student is getting $727 less than they did in 2008 — a decline of 7.7% — when adjusted for inflation.
The bill, HF 2480 (SF 2029) was introduced on February 23.
AMSD Survey, 11/30/12 http://politicsinminnesota.com/files/2011/11/AMSD-Budget-Survey-2011-2012-.pdf
National Center for Education Statistics, Education Minnesota
http://www.parentsunited.org/education-issues/minnesota-rankings/, from New School Year Brings Steep Cuts in State Funding for Schools, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 7, 2011.
New School Year Brings Steep Cuts in State Funding for Schools, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 7, 2011.