Today the Office of Minnesota Management & Budget announced a state budget surplus of $1.4 billion for fiscal years 2018-19. Lower forecast revenue projections are partially offset by reduced spending estimates. The current two year period is now projected to end with a balance of $678 million, after $334 million is put into state budget reserves, as required by law. The forecast is good news, but many ordinary Minnesotans still continue to struggle during our current economic recovery.
Minnesota’s growing budget surplus confirms what we’ve been seeing since 2013 – that Minnesota’s economy is stable and continues to grow and recover. However, there are clear areas where we have more work to do. The current rising costs of health insurance rates for individuals in the private market need immediate attention from the legislature. We also must come together to raise incomes and job opportunities for Minnesotans and make sure our economy is working for everyone.
The forecast revealed that Minnesota’s unemployment rate is holding steady and remains below the national average. My main focus in 2017 will be to ensure we budget responsibly to ensure that incomes can grow, schools remain strong, and that we make smart investments in our public infrastructure to create jobs for middle class families.
The forecast underlines the urgency required to help Minnesota families who have been left behind. I think we do best when we practice fair and balanced budgeting, and that means we must wisely use a portion of this surplus for middle class tax relief and property tax relief that helps families find prosperity.
The next economic forecast will be in late February 2017. The 2017 Legislative Session begins on January 3rd. A major focus of the next session will be to pass a robust bonding bill to create jobs and to help local communities stop property tax increases on middle-class homeowners and small businesses.