State Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) said he is co-authoring legislation that will reduce Minnesota's school payment shift, and ultimately, the amount owed to Minnesota schools.

"One of the benefits of turning a $5.1 billion deficit into a $1.2 billion surplus is that you have cash on hand to pay off your debts," Davids said.

"No one wanted to extend the school payment shift last year, but due to Minnesota's unbelievable economic turnaround, we have the opportunity to pay off this shift - and more - all in the same biennium."

Last session, a new law was instituted that increased the school payment shift by 10 percent.

This amounted to more than $700 million borrowed from Minnesota schools. Of that, $318 million has already been returned thanks to the surplus, and House File 2083 would take $430 million from budget reserves and pay back the rest, as well as make the first repayment towards the shift enacted by previous legislative leadership.

Prior to the 2011 session, the presiding legislature and governor agreed to change the shift payments from a rate of 90/10 to 70/30. This resulted in $2 billion borrowed from Minnesota schools in order to help eliminate a mammoth budget deficit.

"With our revenue collections and unemployment numbers improving every month, there's no reason to just sit on $1 billion in reserves and not begin to pay back the schools," Davids said.

"We owe it to our kids to eliminate this debt as soon as we can."

The "Paying Kids First" bill has been approved in Minnesota House and will soon be debated in the Minnesota Senate.