Surprise budget surplus draws attention - Bring Me The News

Surprise budget surplus draws attention

State officials surprised everyone Thursday morning by announcing a $876 million budget surplus. Now, everyone from St. Cloud to Washington D.C. is chiming in on the situation.
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Minnesota state officials dropped a December surprise this morning when they announced that the state in fact has a $876 million surplus for the remainder of the state's two-year budget.

Responses to the stunning news came quickly.

Don Davis at Forum Communications was quick to point out that this budget does come with a fair amount of warnings, including the fact that it depends on the continuation of the Bush tax cuts.

Baird Helgeson at the Star Tribune hammerson the fact that the government shutdown had no impact on the state budget.

State Rep. King Banaian told WJON radio in St. Cloud that the state should move this money back into education.

And, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post swooped in to say that is not the miracle it seems to be, states around the country are seeing rosier financial pictures.

You can download and read the state's report here, courtesy of MPR.

But here's a quick, layman's rundown of the figures, courtesy of Capitol Chatter

The state constitution requires a balanced budget before the current biennium ends in June of 2013.

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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.

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The Legislature and incoming Democratic governor Tim Walz will have some money to allocate.

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Minnesota's latest economic forecast will be released February 29. In December, the state had an $876 million surplus, but Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter told the Star Tribune "It’s going to be zero or a negative number because we have so many debts to repay that it is very, very unlikely that we will have a surplus.”