Minnesota schools could soon start seeing some of the money owed to them by the state.
The House Education Finance Committee approved HF2083, an omnibus bill, and sent it to the House Tax Committee. The most contentious portion of the bill involves the education funds withheld by the state government used to balance its budget.
Committee members agreed that money must go back to the schools, but had different ideas on where it should come from. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), would draw from the $1 billion the state has in reserve. It has no Senate companion.
Garofalo, in a media availability, described the bill as sound fiscal management.
“A prudent course of action, when you have cash on hand, is to pay down your debt,” he said.
Some DFLers cautioned against using the money from that account to pay back schools, warning that the money is intended to be kept for harder financial times. During his media availability, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) described the proposal as “taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another.”
During the meeting, Rep. Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville) unsuccessfully proposed an amendment that would pay for the school shift by using tax revenue from corporations who keep money overseas.
Republicans worried that implementing those taxes would help schools, but cripple Minnesota companies.
“You squeeze a tube of toothpaste and it has to come out somewhere,” said Rep. Kurt Bills (R-Rosemount). He, along with other Republicans, defended the corporations who would be taxed and said the amendment would negatively affect the state’s job creators.
“You can’t create jobs with money that is sitting in other countries,” said Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls).
Minnesota Management & Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter predicts a grim financial 2013. He argued that the fund the bill draws from should be saved, saying, “We’re borrowing from parts of next year for this year.”