Minnesota has a projected surplus of $1.9B – so what should we do with it?


Minnesota's budget surplus, projected at about $1 billion just a few months ago, is actually nearly double that amount.

The state's Management and Budget Office said Friday the state should have a $1.869 billion surplus over the next two-year budget period.

The reason?

An extra $616 million in revenue (tax collections basically) compared to what was expected in November's projection; and $115 million less spending than thought. Click here to check out a summary of the report, explaining the upped forecast in more detail.

Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans expressed delight at a press conference Friday morning.

What to do with it

Lawmakers were already anticipating a surplus, but the upped projection means they'll have even more flexibility to consider projects – whether it's spending, investments or tax cuts.

But getting everyone to agree – the Republican-controlled House, the DFL-controlled Senate and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton – is another thing entirely.

Dayton gave a press conference lunch time Friday and outlined his vision: no tax cuts, and use the money for investments in transportation and education, according to MPR, which outlines some of the details.

He'll release his updated budget next month.

That proposal, however, isn't sitting well with the state's Republicans group.

The MN GOP put out a news release calling for lawmakers to "give it back!"

"It’s not fair to prioritize the state’s budget over your budget," the statement says, noting the projected surplus means about $350 for every person in Minnesota.

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So how did we end up with a surplus?

The easy answer, of course: More money coming in than going out. The state's relatively low unemployment rate (compared with many other states) surely helped boost tax revenues. And, in case you're wondering, the surplus won't change the debate over the Vikings stadium, at least that's what lawmakers are saying.