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Economy Improves and School Shift Payback Begins

Sen. Chuck Wiger talks about paying back money borrowed from schools across the state.

Thanks to the improving economy in Minnesota, we will soon be able to pay back a portion of the funds borrowed from our schools during the 2011 Special Legislative Session. This good news was recently delivered by the State Economist Tom Stinson during the November Forecast press conference.

We currently owe our education system $2.4 billion as a result of the recent school aid shift. The improved state economy has lead to a $1.3 billion balance in the state’s budget and those funds will automatically go back to our schools.

The state sends aid to schools roughly every two weeks and there are two payments scheduled this month: Dec. 15 and 30. The Minnesota Department of Education is currently working to implement the increased school payments by the Dec. 15 distribution, but it may not happen until Dec. 30.

Unfortunately, Mr. Stinson’s report was good news/bad news. The good news is that we have $1.3 billion to help our schools thanks to better than anticipated numbers for the current biennium. The bad news is that the state will fall into another deficit during the next biennium.

The 2014-2015 projected budget deficit is $1.1 billion. This is the budget that the Minnesota Legislature will be confronted with next session, which must be balanced by June 30. Along with that deficit, $1.1 billion in school shift repayments remain. For more information on the November Forecast, visit the Minnesota Management and Budget’s website at http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/.

There is a lot of work to be done this session, but I am confident that the Legislature and the Governor can work together to support Minnesota’s economic recovery with a fair, balanced and responsible budget that puts our state on the path to long-term fiscal health.

As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue.  Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment.  Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.

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