LA CRESCENT, Minnesota (WXOW/AP) -- Minnesota state lawmakers announced this week that schools will be receiving about $636-million dollars in back pay due to an improving economy and a law putting them first in line for surplus tax collections.
La Crescent-Hokah schools superintendent Ron Wilke said the state has in previous years delayed funding to schools.
He said lawmakers would spread out funding budgeted for one school year over two, separate fiscal years. Such delays would reduce the state's total budget expenditures in the first fiscal year, although they do nothing to reduce the state's overall debt because the money still has to be paid.
Wilke said the re-shuffling of funds also proved a strain on some Minnesota schools.
"In some districts schools would have been forced to borrow money to cover shortfalls because of the delay in funding from the state," he said.
Wilke added the La Crescent-Hokah district has not been forced to borrow money to help cover the lag in funding.
"The benefactors today are Minnesota kids, Minnesota schools and Minnesotans who value a balanced and honest budget," said House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis).
But Republicans said they deserved credit. GOP lawmakers said the repayment is based on a budget that was adopted when they were in charge of the state legislature, in 2011.
"Their plan was, 'Let's rely on the GOP surpluses' to pay back the schools. That plan worked," said Rep. Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plaine).
Payments are slated to go out to individual school districts later this month. Each district's amount of the money is determined by enrollment numbers.
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