To the editor,
The February state budget forecast shows the key decisions we made in 2011 continue paying dividends in the form of back-to-back surpluses.
This turnaround is impressive. We erased a $5.1 billion shortfall last year, provided an $876 million surplus in November and added a $323 million surplus in February. That adds up to $1.2 billion in surplus funds the last few months and a $6.3 billion turn for the better in less than a year.
Projected spending for the current biennium is now down to $33.8 billion, less than the $34 billion many established as the threshold of responsible spending during last year’s budget discussions. Our spending also is markedly less than the unsustainable $39 billion the previous majority had set us up to spend. This development is further evidence our state had a spending problem, not a revenue shortage as some people asserted.
I am proud we stood firm against the billions of dollars in tax increases the governor was proposing. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is down to 5.6 percent, falling faster than the national average of 8.3 percent. Our state has added 27,000 jobs the last two months. I have no doubt additional taxes would have inhibited businesses and slowed this job growth.
More good news from the forecast is at least $318 million will be applied to paying back delayed K-12 education funding. The Constitution required November's surplus funds be used for replenishing state reserves drained during a string of budget shortfalls. We can turn our attention to repaying schools now that we have restored those funds.
Much work remains in putting Minnesota on a sustainable fiscal course. I urge the governor to enact bills we are sending him to bring our state even greater success.
Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen