What the $1.4B budget forecast means for Minnesota

Now lawmakers will have to choose how they want to use this money. Which was a problem last year.
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Minnesota lawmakers could have $1.4 billion to work with in upcoming years.

The state put out its budget forecast Friday morning, projecting a balance of $1.4 billion for lawmakers to compete over when planning for the 2018-19 state budget. That figure includes $678 million that hasn't been spent from the 2016-17 budget cycle, which ends in June. (Yes, we know, this is kind of weird and number-y but it's how things get done.)

The Minnesota Management and Budget office called our economic outlook "stable," even though there's "continued slow economic growth."

This is the first full analysis of the state's financial situation (expected revenue minus spending) since February 2016, and is slightly less than previous projections. But the budget is still a decent size because lawmakers left a lot of money unspent from the last budget. Which wasn't necessarily the plan – they simply failed to pass tax and transportation bills.

In addition to the $1.4 billion projected surplus, the state said Friday that $334 million has been added to the state's rainy day fund (which is required by law when there's a surplus). That boosts the reserves to $1.9 billion.

What's the budget forecast for?

Minnesota's Legislature will use this forecast (and an updated one that'll be released in February) to determine what it can spend money on when it gets together in January.

Republicans, who won the majority in both the state House and Senate, have said they want to cut taxes, spend money on infrastructure, and provide relief for Minnesotans who are facing expensive health insurance premiums, the Pioneer Press says.

Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton has other ideas for the state's two-year budget, including funding for early childhood education, clean water and transportation, the Star Tribune notes.

Both Republicans and Democrats are expected to reveal more of their plans for the budget surplus later Friday.

Lawmakers – and Dayton – must approve a budget by June 30 to avoid a government shutdown, MPR News says.

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