Dayton signals likely veto of GOP schools payback plan

/ 4 April 2012 / jennifer

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, Star Tribune, April 4, 2012 –

Without coming right out and saying so, Gov. Mark Dayton appeared to signal Wednesday that he’ll veto Republicans’ proposal to start repaying schools using the state’s reserve funds.

“I’ve indicated all along that it’s financially irresponsible,” Dayton said. He said he supported paying back the schools by closing what DFLers call a loophole that allows companies with foreign operations to avoid paying some taxes. Republicans have rejected that proposal.

“I see this as another one of the election ploys that has a lot more to do with November 2012 to them than it does with anything else,” he said. The Republican idea would shift the burden to the state, which could mean Minnesota would have to borrow money at a higher interest rate than schools now pay. He said it would kick “the financial problem down the road.” The state currently has a budget surplus but anticipates a deficit next year.

In order to balance its budget, the state has shifted and delayed payments to schools and now has a debt of $2.4 billion. Both DFLers and Republicans have decried that tactic, which makes it harder for schools to pay their bills.

Republicans say their proposal allows the state to share its current good economic condition with the schools. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, asked Dayton to sign the bill into law.

Dayton must either sign or veto it before Friday. Asked whether his criticism of the measure means he’ll veto it, he demurred — but only a little.

“I could read between the lines there. I would be in trouble if I scooped my Thursday story,” Dayton said.

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • Twitter: @rachelsb