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Time to end partisan games, get to work

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The responsible budgeting enacted by the Minnesota Legislature over the past two years continues to produce positive results for our state's fiscal health. The most recent revenue collection numbers came out last week and once again the state collected more revenue than expected, to the tune of a $32.3 million surplus.

As required by law we have used our recent surpluses first to refill the cash flow account and to restore our budget reserves, and we have also begun to pay back the school shift.

So here's where we are now in terms of the bigger picture. Last year we had to resolve a $6.2 billion deficit that was projected in the official November 2010 budget forecast. This was accomplished by reducing government spending and investing in reforms that have already resulted in savings for taxpayers and improved services throughout the state.

The May surplus is great news for the state. It also serves to vindicate our legislative attempts earlier this year to repay our schools for the shift which the governor stipulated as part of the compromise to end the state shutdown last summer. I certainly would have preferred an alternative over holding back payments to our schools; however the pain of the shutdown became too great to ignore. This was the deal that the governor offered, and we accepted it to move forward.

Those of us in the Legislature have made multiple attempts since then to repay the borrowed funds due our schools and to also begin repaying the funds shifted from them before the majority party changed last year.

Unfortunately, our legislation to repay our schools was the victim of partisan politics. Some in St. Paul apparently believe that the school shift funds are better off unpaid so that the issue can be kept in the headlines to affect the looming elections. And so our legislation was vetoed.

Given last week's revenue surplus, I believe that those of us you elected to represent you in St. Paul have a duty to pay back the borrowed money from our schools now. It is time to end the partisan games and get to work doing what is best for the people of our great state. I will continue fighting for this objective as your state senator. Thanks again for the opportunity to serve you.

Sen. John Carlson

R-Bemidji

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