Today, Governor Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, House Speaker Paul Thissen, Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced that Minnesota schools were repaid an additional $636 million at the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
Under the leadership of Governor Dayton and the DFL legislature, Minnesota has now repaid nearly $2.6 billion of the $2.8 billion that was previously borrowed from our schools.
"Last spring, the DFL legislature and I passed the first responsible state budget in more than a decade," said Governor Dayton. "This additional repayment of the state's debt to our schools marks another step toward a clean fiscal slate, from which we will build a better Minnesota."
"Schools across Minnesota were put under enormous financial stress by the Republican school shift, and paying back every penny remains a priority in the Senate," said Senator Bakk. "This repayment, along with the significant investments in education approved last session, further strengthens the state's partnership with local school districts."
"This good news for Minnesota kids and our state is the result of working together to put progress ahead of the gridlock of the past," said House Speaker Thissen. "From day one, we made it a priority to pay back the debt that was piled up on our kids and because of our decision to accelerate the payback, our schools know with certainty they can take our commitment to the bank."
"Paying back the school shift -- in addition to funding for early childhood and all day K, investing in 3rd grade literacy, and raising standards and improving tests -- is part of our overall commitment to creating a strong foundation so that all of Minnesota's students and schools can thrive and succeed," said Commissioner Cassellius.
A decade of cuts, shifts, and gimmicks caused Minnesota to lurch from one budget crisis to the next -- limiting the state's ability to fund education and job creation. This year, the Governor and DFL legislature put an end to roller-coaster deficits with a fair and balanced budget that put Minnesota on sound fiscal footing and delivered key investments in education.
The new state budget signed into law this spring by Governor Dayton is projected to begin the next biennium with a surplus. The budget also invested over $600 million in Minnesota's students -- reversing a decade of disinvestment in education. This new funding is directed toward strategies proven to close the achievement gap, raise graduation rates, and improve student career and college readiness.
Today's announcement comes just after Minnesota added 12,200 jobs in August, pushing total jobs in the state over the pre-recession peak that was reached in February 2008, and less than a week after Minnesota was ranked eighth in the "Forbes 2013 List of the Best States for Business" rankings.