This op-ed calls out the DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Speaker Thissen, for telling whoppers about repaying the school shift. Dan Fabian’s and Deb Kiel’s op-ed is a shot across Gov. Dayton’s bow:

So, when Gov. Mark Dayton and Democratic leaders recently declared their one-party control led to the state making good on $2.5 billion in delayed K-12 school payments, we stopped dead in our tracks, totally astonished.

Now, people who know us gather we are reasonable people. We don’t like to get into partisan politics, but in this instance, we felt the need to set the record straight to what we view as one of the more egregious examples of political misrepresentation.

Rep. Fabian and Rep. Kiel won’t say it this harshly but I will. Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Speaker Thissen lied through their teeth. (I first wrote about this in this post.) Here’s what the DFL press release admitted:

Governor Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, House Speaker Paul Thissen, Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced that Minnesota schools were repaid an additional $636 million at the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

The budget that was in place through the end of FY2013 was passed by the GOP legislature after a lengthy shutdown caused by Gov. Dayton. Credit for paying off $636,000,000 of the school shift rightly belongs to the GOP legislature, first because their budget created a healthy surplus and secondly, because the GOP legislature said no to the greedy fingers of the DFL’s special interests.

Here’s some verifiable facts for Gov. Dayton, Speaker Thissen and Sen. Bakk to digest:

From the previous Legislature, we inherited a $5 billion deficit, including a $2 billion school shift. A “shift” simply means that payments to K-12 schools are delayed to a later date in order to provide a one-time savings to the state without actually reducing education appropriations.

As we wrestled to balance a historic deficit and out-of-control spending, we and our legislative colleagues called for holding the line on taxes and controlling state spending; on the other hand, Dayton called for large tax increases to fix the deficit.

During compromise negotiations, Dayton was first to float the idea of delaying school payments to an even later date. Ultimately, as part of the 2011 budget agreement with the governor, the amount owed in deferred payments to schools grew to $2.7 billion.

In other words, the DFL had little, if anything, to do with accelerating the paying off of the school shift. Rep. Thissen didn’t vote for the budget Gov. Dayton grudgingly signed. Sen. Bakk didn’t vote for the budget that Gov. Dayton grudgingly signed, either.

It’s pretty pathetic to see 3 people attempting to take credit for something they shut down the government to prevent. That’s the sad truth of this episode. Here’s what the Democrats said about the GOP budget:

Hardworking Minnesotans responded well to the budget that didn’t tax them, and revenues coming in to the state were consistently higher than expected. Record numbers of businesses popped up, and the unemployment rate continued to drop.

In April 2012, Dayton vetoed the Legislature’s move to pay back more than $2 billion in delayed K-12 payments. With this veto, Dayton said, “This is what I think is right for Minnesota.”

Vetoing a bill that would’ve paid off the vast majority of the school shift, then taking credit for paying off the school shift with the money from a budget they didn’t want belongs in the theater of the absurd. It’s pathetically fitting that Democrats would take credit for something they didn’t want anything to do with.

By this point, the 2011 fiscally responsible budget had produced nearly $3.4 billion in cumulative budget surpluses. Of this, about $2.5 billion has been applied to the school shift, leaving only about $238 million from the 2010 DFL-led Legislature.

During the 2013 session, our DFL colleagues enacted a special provision that allowed them to use the remaining budget surplus of $636 million and put it toward the remaining school shift.

Now, Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders who decried the 2011 budget are taking credit for its benefits. We have to admit, it’s a shrewd move and politically savvy. But it’s not honest.

The words honesty and Democrats fit together as nicely as ‘government shutdown’ and ‘respectful of veterans’.

Gov. Dayton and the Democratic legislature fought against paying off the school shift. Democratic legislators voted in lockstep against the GOP to repay the shift. Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill that would’ve paid off $2,500,000,000 of the school shift. Those are verifiable, irrefutable facts.

Gov. Dayton and the Democratic legislature should be ashamed of lying this blatantly about who paid off the school shift.

UPDATE: Sen. Nienow just emailed me this clip from this September’s special session. In the video, Sen. Bakk admits that the school shift wasn’t in the DFL’s budget. Further, Sen. Bakk made clear that paying off the final $238,000,000 would rely on whether sufficient revenues came in. Finally, Sen. Bakk sounded anything but clear on whether there was enough money to repeal the DFL’s mistake taxes, aka the B2B sales taxes on farm equipment repairs, telecommunications purchases and the warehousing services sales tax.

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