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Tom Tillberry: Better Budget Outlook Means It's Time to Pay Schools Back

The Fridley DFLer says the state's improved financial outlook is an opportunity to return 'shifted' funds to school districts.

Minnesota's improved budget picture means the state should release delayed payments to school districts, said one of Fridley's representatives at the state Capitol Monday.

"I believe we should use this brighter forecast and repay the vast majority of the $1.4 billion school funding shift," said Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-51B) in a statement, only hours after the Minnesota Management and Budget Office forecasted a deficit of slightly more than $5 billion, down from $6.2 billion.

"Laudable" was Tillberry's term for Gov. Dayton proposal to use the $1 billion or so to ease cuts to nursing homes and Minnesota Care, as well as eliminating a surtax on incomes of more than $500,000. But the third-term legislator said struggling schools are his priority.

"With districts shifting to four-day weeks, laying off faculty and staff, increasing class sizes, and dealing with always-increasing costs, paying back this shift would provide them with much-needed help," Tillberry said.

As of late afternoon Monday, Tillberry was the only state representative to advocate hurrying up the state's delayed payments to school districts, according to House DFL spokesman Ted Modrich.

Not Wisconsin
Sen. Pam Wolf (R-51) said she does not see a parallel between a teachers-union bill she introduced last week and the bill that has sparked a two-week union protest at Wisconsin's state Capitol.

"It's not an anti-union bill," said Wolf, a teacher and a union member, about her legislation (S.F. 409) to decertify union locals after they reach contract agreements.  "It empowers the members and holds unions accountable." Union members could vote to recertify their locals the next day if they wanted to, Wolf said.

A separate bill Wolf authored, S.F. 408, would require financial reports from each local to each member. Neither bill, Wolf said, eliminates unions. The coincidence with the upheaval in Wisconsin, she said, "is just bad timing."

Julie Blaha, president of Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota, said that the effect of Wolf's bills would be "tying up the union in red tape" and that decertification would create "a gap in service [that] can be a real concern."

Bills from Fridley's Legislators
Here are the bills that Fridley's senators and representatives authored or co-authored since .

Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-50)
S.F. 462 (chief author): Regulates dog and cat breeders. Also co-authored S.F. 465, requiring background checks for firearms transfers at gun shows; and S.F. 457, tightening requirements on state health plan contractors. Goodwin also is chief author of a resolution honoring Elaina Hamann of Columbia Heights.

Sen. Pam Wolf (R-51)
Co-authored S.F. 493, the "Tobacco Uniformity Act of 2011."

Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-50A)
No new bills authored or co-authored.

Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-51B)
Co-authored H.F 702, the companion to Sen. Goodwin's dog- and cat-breeder bill; H.F. 765, which adds anti-bullying language to state law; and H.F. 768, which requires school districts to insure employees' health via the public-employees insurance program.

Who is your representative and senator? Type your address into the Legislature's online District Finder.

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