Letter: 'Pay back the schools as quickly as we can'With the recent news of a second consecutive budget surplus and unemployment numbers that continue to decline, it’s clear the decisions made last session have started to put Minnesota on the road to economic recovery.
By: Dist. 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, Worthington Daily Globe
With the recent news of a second consecutive budget surplus and unemployment numbers that continue to decline, it’s clear the decisions made last session have started to put Minnesota on the road to economic recovery.
Last session, we made tough choices in order to balance the budget. With an $876 million budget surplus in November and now a $323 million surplus in February, there’s no doubt these choices have helped put Minnesota’s economy back on track.
The reforms enacted last session have shown tremendous benefits. Along with turning a $5.1 billion deficit into a $1.2 billion surplus, unemployment has dropped from 7.5 percent to 5.6 percent in one year.
More good jobs news: According to the most recent Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) report, Minnesota added 15,500 jobs in January. It also noted that private sector job growth has been particularly strong, adding 27,200 jobs in the past two months alone.
Our policies are encouraging business owners to expand their workforce, and we are seeing the results through increased income tax and sales tax collections.
According to state law, this latest $323 million windfall is already spent. The first $5 million heads to budget reserves, while the remaining $318 million will be used to pay back the school payment shift that was enacted by the current and previous legislatures.
But the Legislature should go further towards eliminating our debt to schools. On March 15, I helped approve legislation on the House floor that eliminates the school payment shift extension enacted last year, and begins to pay back the $2 billion borrowed from schools by previous legislatures. The bill takes $430 million from budget reserves to make these payments.
With $1 billion sitting in budget reserves, and our economy improving every month, we owe it to our kids to pay back the schools as quickly as we can. Education is never part of the problem in state government; it’s always part of the solution.