Our elected officials needed a plan to pay off their debt to our schools, and it appears they have one.
House Democrats on Tuesday said they plan to impose a temporary surcharge on the top 1 percent of earners in Minnesota as a means to pay off what the state owes to schools. The key word here is "temporary," as this tax will end once schools are paid back in full.
While we're not thrilled that Democrats don't seem to be in a real big hurry to pay back our schools, this is at least keeps the ball rolling.
The state owes the schools for aid held back to fix past budget deficits. So far, $1.9 billion has been repaid to schools; the state still owes $1.2 billion.
The House surcharge plan takes Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal a step further. Dayton had recommended a new 9.85 percent rate for taxable income above $250,000 for couples and $150,000 for single filers. The surcharge would amount to a couple of percentage points and would disappear within two years.
Of course, this is just a plan and more than likely is contingent on the state not painting itself into a corner again. Legislators still must continue to find ways to totally erase the deficit, and they must leave schools alone when doing so.
The Senate's budget plan also is school-friendly in that it calls for a $486 million chunk of funding for things like early childhood education and all-day kindergarten. Another $262 million would go toward higher education.
On the surface, it appears our legislators are looking out for our children and thinking long-term when it comes to preparing them for the future.