Emmer budget plan, part 2: No payback of education funding shifts until 2014


Before a debate on September 10 on education issues, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer released the second part of his budget plan detailing his plans for K-12 education.

Under the plan, Emmer would not begin repaying the $1.4 billion education funding shift – an accounting move to balance the state’s previous budget – until 2014. His Democratic opponent Mark Dayton plans to repay that amount over the next two years. Emmer’s delayed repayment would help reduce the projected $6 billion budget shortfall facing the next governor by the same $1.4 billion amount, though it would leave the state’s schools with less money than currently expected. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner would also delay repaying the education shift.

Emmer’s plan also said that if elected governor, he would not reduce education spending level for the next two years. “Hold K-12 education funding harmless in the next biennium,” reads the press release detailing his plan. “State general fund spending for FY 2010-11 is set at $13.8 billion. Tom Emmer is committed to ensure that this critical spending of the budget is not reduced.”

But shortly after this morning’s debate Dayton answered Emmer’s plan with a press release arguing that the Republican is disingenuous in claiming that spending $13 billion for education is not a cut.

According to the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget’s General Fund Balance Analysis, End of 2010 Legislative Sessions dated June 11, 2010 on page 1, line G, current law requires the state general fund to provide $15,621,575,000 in funding for K-12 education in the next biennium.

To limit K-12 education funding to $13,300,000,000 as Rep. Emmer is proposing, instead of $15,621,575,000 as required by law, he would have to cut funding by $2,321,575,000. That is a 14.9% cut to K-12 education funding for the next biennium.

The first part of Emmer’s budget proposal came out on Monday and focused on how he would improve employment on the state, consisting entirely of tax breaks for corporations and reduced government regulations. Emmer’s campaign will announce the third and final part of his budget plan next week, which will detail how Emmer plans to close the expected $6 billion budget gap.

This last part has been the most anticipated and unclear aspect of Emmer’s plan, as the Republican has vowed to not raise taxes. Dayton’s campaign is centered around a proposal to raise the tax burden of the state’s top earners in order to correct the majority of the shortfall.

Patrick Caldwell is the American Independent’s Minnesota correspondent.