Minnesota's $1.2B budget surplus: What to do with it?

By KBJR News 1

February 28, 2014 Updated Feb 28, 2014 at 8:10 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The February budget and economic forecast released Friday shows Minnesota carries a $1.23 billion surplus for fiscal years 2014-2015.

"Today’s State Budget Forecast is great news for Minnesota. It also is a dramatic improvement over previous forecasts," said Gov. Mark Dayton. "It is the first February Forecast in seven years to project surpluses for both the current biennium (FY14/15) and the next one (FY16/17)."

The numbers released by the Minnesota Management & Budget office are an improvement of $408 million from the last forecast released in November.

Since then, officials say revenue projects have increased by $366 million and spending projects have decreased by $48 million.

"This remarkable turnaround resulted from significant improvements in Minnesota’s economy. Contrary to some people’s mythology, the budget surpluses forecast for this biennium and the next DID NOT result from last year’s tax bill. Those surpluses DID result from thousands more Minnesotans working and earning higher incomes," Gov. Dayton said.

According to the report, Minnesota employers added 3,500 jobs per month in 2012 and 3,800 jobs per month in 2013.

The Forecast also projects that Minnesotans’ total incomes will grow by 5.7% in 2014 and another 5.8% in 2015.

The question now is what lawmakers want to do with the Surplus.

Governor Mark Dayton and House leaders agree making tax cuts in the House tax bill are a good start.

Senate leaders are taking a more reserved approach, hoping to put money away in a rainy day fund.

The Minnesota GOP wants to give the money back to tax payers.

The 2016-2017 structural balance is project to be $2.599 billion.

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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