Hatch to educators: No promises

Mike Hatch
Mike Hatch speaks to a teachers' union as his running mate -- Judi Dutcher -- looks on.
MPR Photo/Laura McCallum

DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch says he won't make any promises about education spending until it's clear that Minnesota has a budget surplus.

Hatch spoke to several hundred teachers at an Education Minnesota conference on Thursday. The teachers union has endorsed Hatch over Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Hatch told teachers if elected, he would "put kids first," but he didn't offer any specifics about education funding.

After his speech, Hatch told reporters that he's not convinced the state's financial problems are over.

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"I'd love to tell you that we have a $500 million surplus like the governor did, but when you see figures come out with the third-worst job loss in the history of this state, that's sobering and I don't think we're getting transparency right now from the Pawlenty administration with regard to what our economic standing is," Hatch said.

The latest economic update from the state finance department showed Minnesota revenues coming in more than a half-billion dollars ahead of projections.

Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung says the state is on course for a significant surplus, and a one-month dip in the state's job growth doesn't change that trend.

"The only person who is pessimistic enough in the entire state to think that we're not in the right direction is Mike Hatch," McClung said. "Any economist, any person who understands and knows these numbers will tell you that the governor's taken us from a really tough budget situation to one where we're in the black, we're running ahead of forecast and we're headed to a surplus in this legislative session."

The next revenue forecast won't be released until late November, weeks after the election.