Surplus came from delaying payments

To the editor
I’ve seen and heard a lot of talk this campaign season about Rep. Bob Barrett turning a “$6 billion deficit into a surplus without raising taxes.”
In checking these claims, I found that Mr. Barrett and the St. Paul Republicans took out a loan and charged it to us. The “surplus” comes from delaying payments to our public schools (putting a financial strain on already our struggling school districts) and selling bonds to get an advance on future tobacco settlement payments.
It sounds like a surplus. But where’s the money? Is it in a bank? Show me the money. Mr. Barrett and the Republicans in St. Paul can’t because the “surplus” is an accounting trick as slick and glossy as their flyers.
The “surplus” they take credit for will have to be repaid to our schools, whose payments they borrowed. The $787 million they sold in bonds will be to be repaid, at a cost of over $1.2 billion that we will be paying for until the year 2032.
And where does that money come from? Not from the state’s budget reserves–that’s the money he and the St. Paul Republicans borrowed in the first place. There is no money; there is no surplus. There’s just a jar full of IOUs that will cost all of us a lot more of our money, down the road.
Oh, and not to mention, Mr. Barrett and St. Paul Republicans protected tax breaks for businesses and shifted the tax burden to property taxpayers by eliminating the homestead tax credit.
A balanced budget and a surplus? Representative Barrett, please show me the money.

Greg Combs
North Branch

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