Letter: New state budget forecast is 'fantastic' news for stateFor the first time in several years, the top priority for the Minnesota Legislature will not be eliminating a billion dollar state budget deficit.
By: Dist. 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, Worthington Daily Globe
For the first time in several years, the top priority for the Minnesota Legislature will not be eliminating a billion dollar state budget deficit.
Minnesota will finally see a windfall this year, as state economists project Minnesota is $876 million in the black. The legislature made some very difficult decisions this past legislative session to address the $5.1 billion deficit, and our actions turned the deficit into a nearly $1 billion surplus.
This is fantastic news for the State of Minnesota and I’m pleased it’s on the road to economic recovery, but I also realize the legislature’s work has just begun.
According to Minnesota’s economists, the good fiscal news is due mainly to lower than expected state government spending. Another positive: economists say that Minnesota’s economy is likely to be better than the U.S. economy in both 2011 and 2012.
Though Minnesota now has $876 million more than expected, Hamilton said lawmakers will not spend recklessly. Current law allocates the entire forecast balance to restoring state reserve funds. This means $255 million of that amount will restore Minnesota’s cash flow account to $350 million, and the remaining $621 million will be sent to state budget reserves.
With this surplus in hand, it will be important for the legislature to reasonably and responsibly evaluate the needs of the state. We will take this opportunity to review the changes that were made in the last legislative session and evaluate the outcomes. We can then address the areas that were underserved and are more in need of state support — all the while keeping the taxpayer in mind.
This news proves that when reasonable people come together and have the courage to make the tough decisions, we can achieve what seemed impossible. It was imperative that the state addressed the runaway spending. We need to continue reforming government and continue prioritizing state needs in order to keep Minnesota on the right fiscal path.