The House passed a measure that would repay a portion of the money owed to schools by the state on a 74-59 vote.
The most contentious portion of the HF2083, sponsored by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), involves the education funds withheld by the state that were used to balance its budget and help end the 2011 state government shutdown.
House members agree that money must go back to the schools, but have different ideas on where it should come from. The bill would draw from the $1 billion the state is projected to have in reserve.
Republicans lauded the bill as prudent fiscal management. Garofalo said the state has a responsibility to repay debts with the money it keeps in reserve. He accused DFLers of creating an education budget crisis during their time in the majority.
“What do you hear from Democrats? Phony-baloney reasons about why they won’t pay schools back,” he said.
DFLers disputed Garofalo’s claims, blaming the school shift on Republicans’ budgeting during the previous session.
DLFers unsuccessfully offered three amendments, including two that would fund repayment with a tax increase for corporations that keep money in overseas accounts.
Republicans opposed that alternative, saying that raising taxes on companies would hurt the state economy.
DFLers disapprove of paying debt with reserve funds, which they said the state will need for emergencies in 2013. They said their amendments would have continuously paid schools on a long-term basis, which they asserted the Garofalo plan does not do.
“We should say to every kid in the state, ‘We owe you $2 billion. We’re sorry. If only we had adopted the DFL plan, we might have been able to pay you back,’” said Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley).
The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) is the sponsor.