ST. PAUL  (AP) - The Minnesota House has approved a Republican-backed measure to use state rainy-day funds to pay down debts to public schools.

The bill would take $430 million out of the state budget reserve and return it to schools. The House approved the bill 74-59 Thursday.

Republicans say with state finances improving, they feel comfortable tapping into a reserve fund so schools don't have to wait as long for catch-up payments. The state now owes more than $2 billion to schools for past budget fixes.

Democrats call the GOP strategy reckless financing that could force the state to take out short-term loans to meet its cash obligations.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he opposes the bill. The measure has not been heard yet by a Senate committee.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved)