Minnesota House, Senate leaders have deal on partial school payback
Megan Boldt, Pioneer Press, March 28, 2012 –
Minnesota House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement to start paying back the $2.4 billion owed to public schools in the state.
The bill approved on a voice vote by a conference committee Wednesday night, March 28, would repay schools about $430 million in delayed payments previously used to balance the state budget.
The compromise bill does not include a Senate measure to freeze teacher raises for experience and continuing education if a contract expires while negotiations continue between a district and its union. Nor is ending seniority-based teacher layoffs, as suggested by the House.
Getting rid of the layoff practice dubbed “last in, first out” is still moving ahead in the Legislature on its own.
Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton struck a budget deal last session that included delaying an additional $770 million in state aid for schools to help close the state’s budget shortfall. That brought the total amount owed to schools to $2.7 billion.
That amount is now about $2.4 billion after state officials agreed to apply the $323 million surplus shown in the latest state budget forecast to the debt.
The plan cuts the state’s reserves from $657 million to about $227 million. An additional $350 million in cash-flow accounts leaves the state with about $577 million on hand.
The bill now goes to both the House and Senate floors. If approved, as expected, they would be sent on to Dayton.
Megan Boldt can be reached at 651-228-5495. Follow her at twitter.com/meganboldt.