Republicans and Democrats take credit for “almost” paying off “most of” our State’s debt.

The State’s latest financial report is out.  While the revenue gains are welcome, they still are not enough to meet the State’s financial obligations.  Yet, if you listen to the Republicans, you would think we had a budget surplus.  GOP Chair Keith Downey posted on Twitter, “Surplus paid back $2B+ (almost all) of school shift.”

Sorry Keith, but paying back “almost all” of your debt, does not leave you with a surplus.  It leaves you with a debt.

At least the Governor is honest in his dismissing the State’s debt as unimportant to him.  In May he told us that “we still have $854 million to go, but we’ll pay that back and if we don’t . . . we’ll deal with it in the next legislative session.”  Now, according to the Governor, “Our state’s strong economic growth has enabled us to work our way out of previous budget deficits and repay most of what we owed our school districts.”

Why do our elected officials think that repaying “almost all” or “most of” our State’s debt is a huge accomplishment?  My credit card company doesn’t reduce my interest rate because I paid “almost all” of my monthly payment.  I’m sure that the Minnesota Department of Revenue isn’t going to thank me for paying “most of” my yearly tax obligation.

We need to continue to hold our elected officials accountable for doing their jobs successfully, not congratulating them for smaller failures than the previous legislature.  No matter how you slice, spin or manipulate the latest financial numbers out of Saint Paul, the State still owes our schools over $400 million dollars.  Until that debt is paid, the State of Minnesota is still in debt.

I am amazed at the arrogance of our public officials who refused to budget ANY money to repay the school shift.  To say we will pay back our schools out of revenue surpluses is like telling the State that I will pay my taxes if and when I have some extra money even though I just purchased a brand new car.  “But I told them I would pay them back when I could,” doesn’t work for Minnesota taxpayers and it shouldn’t be tolerated by them either.

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