Congrats to the Fergus Falls Otters girls hockey team for winning the consolation championship in last week’s state tournament with a 4-2 win over Rochester Lourdes on Saturday. Nice job, girls. This week is state wrestling in St. Paul, so good luck to competitors from our area in that event.
As for news from the Capitol, the new state economic forecast was issued by Minnesota Management & Budget on Thursday. The report shows a budget surplus of around $1 billion on the bottom line. Revenue collections are down since the November forecast showed a $1.5 billion surplus. MMB says:
“The projected balance for the upcoming biennium is $1.052 billion, which is $492 million less than the November forecast. Slower projected economic growth and lower observed collections compared to prior estimates result in a reduced revenue forecast throughout the budget horizon. A slightly lower expenditure forecast partially offsets the overall reduction to the projected balance. The trend of slower growth continues into the planning horizon with projected spending growth outpacing forecast revenue growth into FY 2022-23.”
The information in this report will now allow the House and Senate to put their respective budget proposals in final form as we start the process of negotiating a solution for a new two-year state budget. My thought is that we need to be cautious in how we proceed. A surplus remains, but that should not be viewed as a license to spend. It also means tax increases should be non-starters this session.
Committee work continues to occupy most of our time at the Capitol. One bill of mine to receive a recent hearing is legislation that would help develop the Fergus Falls riverfront corridor. The idea is to enhance that area to attract visitors and economic activity with such features as a farmer’s market and amphitheater. Another bill of mine to be heard allows the local sales tax Perham voters approved to be implemented. Lastly, a bill I am co-authoring providing supplemental aid to two-year MNSCU colleges – including some in our region – is making its way through the process.
March 15 is the first deadline for finance bills to make preliminary progress in committees, so there will continue to be a push to get proposals to that point and keep them viable for passage later this session.
Look for more as things develop in St. Paul.