For more information contact: Mike Molzahn 651-296-1774
I hope the first snap of winter weather has been treating you well. Here is an update on things I thought you would like to know.
Forecasted Budget Surplus
Minnesota Management and Budget just released the most recent state budget forecast, which included a projected budget surplus of just under $1.9 billion. This marks the second consecutive year of big budget surpluses following the DFL’s responsibly balanced budget of 2013, when we paid back the school shift and focused on initiatives that would help the middle class. After $665 million of the projected surplus is saved into Minnesota’s rainy day account, as required by law, the legislature will be left with $1.206 billion to allocate.
Lawmakers entered this year's session with a similarly sized $2 billion surplus, but the House GOP pushed an agenda that was so radical we had to have a special session to get our budget figured out. While they chose to play political games and prioritize special interests over Minnesota families, they left Minnesotans to deal with increased property taxes, higher tuition, and higher healthcare costs.
I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join me and seek a balanced approach to allocating the surplus this time around. We need to make sure we save for the future, make crucial investments in the vital services such as education and transportation, and targeted tax breaks that will benefit middle class taxpayers, homeowners, renters, farmers and small businesses.
We cannot repeat the same mistakes of the last year when the Republicans squandered a huge opportunity. It's time for us to put the interests of everyday Minnesotans first. With another large surplus to work with, the legislature can and should do better this year.
I would love to hear your ideas about our budget surplus and our agenda for the upcoming session.
Capitol Art Survey
As you know, there has been a lot of discussion about the art in the State Capitol. It’s important that the public shares their beliefs as the Capitol art is decided. Please share your thoughts with us by visiting the Capitol Art Survey.
Repayment of Closed Landfill Fund
You may remember last spring and during the special session, GOP efforts to use accumulated funds from the Closed Landfill Fund (CLF) and the Metropolitan Landfill Contingency Action Trust (MLCAT). Through a lot of work we were able to include a repayment of these raided funds if the November forecast was positive. Because of the forecast today, $71 million of the surplus today will be used to pay back these raided accounts.
The Legislature raided the MLCAT account in 2004 ($9.9 million) and 2005 ($4 million) and promised to pay it back once money was available. Those paybacks have never happened and I think now is the best time to replenish those accounts. I’m planning on introducing a bill to repay them in 2016 using the surplus.
As always, feel free to contact me with any thoughts or concerns you may have.
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