The budget forecast shows a $1.3 billion projected surplus – and Minnesota is also outperforming the nation and region, especially when it comes to the number of workers now moving into communities across the entire state, reversing a long-term trend that continues to plague other Midwestern states. Laura Kalambokidis, the State Economist, explained that Minnesota’s economy is more diverse than surrounding states, adding that, while we don’t do entrance or exit interviews to know for sure, the state is buoyed by greats jobs and wage growth.
Budget officials celebrated the result, which saves $2.3 billion and allows the state to reach the finish line in its budget reserve target. In response to the news, Democrats who control the House expressed caution, saying that the twelfth surplus in 13 years without inflation factored in is a fictional dream – and they offered a sobering counterpoint. “The state is dealing with racial disparities, unaffordable healthcare, childcare,” said DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler.
Republicans who run the Senate say an income tax cut worked and they want to give the surplus back to taxpayers. “This is actually really, really good news, ” said GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. “It shows 4 years of growth.”
Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt added, “Last election, the number-one issue was healthcare costs, and next election it will be healthcare costs.”
For his part, Rep. Daudt called for a complete repeal of the healthcare provider tax, which got a big no from the governor. “The provider tax… Really?” retorted DFL Gov. Tim Walz. “Do not talk about the provider tax this year.” That’s after a big fight to stop the automatic full repeal of the of the tax on healthcare providers.
Overall, the governor expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of $1 billion in forecasted surplus dollars. The news is evidence of several positive trends sweeping the state, including a dramatic increase in household formations and the number of people moving to Minnesota to fill job vacancies. “This is a state that works and values everyone,” he said.
Stay tuned to Almanac, which airs on TPT2 on Fridays at 7 pm and on Sundays at 9:30 am, for ongoing coverage of what lawmakers decide to do with the $1.3 billion surplus.
As the Minnesota legislature put the finishing touches on the state’s budget earlier this year, Almanac’s David Gillette offered this illustrated essay on what did and did not make it into the budget.
One of the wettest years on record, floods wreaked havoc on Minnesota communities in 2019. Almanac reporter Mary Lahammer recently visited Henderson, Minn., a town turned into an island due to floodwaters this year. She investigates how the town would use some much-needed bonding money as state lawmakers tour projects around the state in need of investment.
In the wake of news about the state’s budget surplus, one issue remains true: Minnesota’s infrastructure is aging, and several projects across the state could benefit from bonding money. Mary Lahammer accompanied lawmakers on a trip to southern Minnesota to learn more about the area’s needs.