Minnesota's budget surplus climbs to $1.65 billion
ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s projected budget surplus has jumped from $1.4 billion to $1.65 billion.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's projected budget surplus has jumped from $1.4 billion to $1.65 billion.
Minnesota Management and Budget released the updated budget forecast numbers this morning. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle welcomed the good news, but put forward different suggestions on how those dollars should be used.
House Taxes Committee Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, said he wants to see a large chunk of the surplus be used for tax cuts.
"Obviously we're taxing too much. We're overcharging Minnesotans. So I think we need to give middle class tax relief," he said.
Davids said he has heard $7 billion to $8 billion worth of tax cut proposals so far this session. He said the tax bill he puts together will focus on reducing the state's Social Security taxes, statewide business property tax and estate taxes.
Democrats cautioned against funneling most of the money to tax cuts at a time when there is a lot of uncertainty at the federal level. Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, said Republicans in D.C. are poised to make significant cuts to health care funding as part of plans to repeal and replace Obamacare.
"Even with a growing surplus, the Minnesota Legislature must not give tax cuts to the wealthy. Instead we must reserve what resources we can and focus on programs that help Minnesotans prepare for much leaner times," Liebling said.
Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, said she would like to see some of the additional surplus dollars used to address critical needs in the state, including crumbling transportation infrastructure.
"Everybody is talking about 'we need to have money in transportation and we need to fix that,'" Poppe said. "The roads continue to deteriorate, and we can't let that continue to happen."
Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said he wants to see some of those surplus dollars used to cut taxes. He said the strong budget number also bodes well for lawmakers passing a robust construction borrowing bill.
"It's good news for the bonding bill. There's no question about that," said Senjem, chairman of the Senate Capital Investment Committee.