We entered the 2020 session last month knowing big decisions would be made regarding our state’s $1.3 billion surplus. Those big decisions remain, but now they pertain to a $1.5 billion surplus after Minnesota Management & Budget came out with an updated economic forecast last week.
The $1.5 billion surplus represent an improvement of $181 million since last November. The cash flow account balance is $350 million in each year 2020-23, and the budget reserve balance for the 2020-21 biennium is $2.359 billion. Those balances are unchanged.
The bottom line is Minnesota’s budget and economic outlook remain healthy, providing us with a perfect opportunity to provide significant tax relief for Minnesotans. House Republicans are working on a package that would benefit virtually all citizens in our state, so look for details of that plan to unfold soon.
In other news from the Capitol this week:
RFA funding approved
This week the House voted to allocate $50 million for the depleted Rural Finance Authority loan program which aids farmers. The RFA funding was scheduled to run dry in mid-February and it took longer than it should have for the House to get this funding in order. Attempts to bring urgency to this issue were blocked last month but now we got it done so farmers looking into RFA financing should soon be out of limbo.
As I mentioned in last week’s email, the RFA partners with agricultural lenders to provide low-cost financing to farmers on terms and conditions not otherwise available from other credit sources. The RFA portion of the loan is carried at a reduced interest rate to improve the cash flow of eligible farmers. RFA offer loans within the beginning farmer loan and seller assisted program, agricultural improvement program, debt restructuring program, and livestock expansion programs.
California car standards in Minnesota?
The governor and his administration are looking to bring California car standards to our state. I was among several House Republicans who wrote a letter to him expressing our concerns for the impacts that would have on Minnesotans.
On a separate environmental note, a House hearing took place for a bill (HF1405) that is this year’s version of the Green New Deal from 2019. This bill would effectively impose a 100-percent renewable energy mandate on the state’s electric utilities. If you’re wondering what that would mean to Minnesotans, a study by the Center for the American Experiment showed that just a 50-percent renewable mandate would raise costs to consumers by $80 billion over the next 30 years.
As concerns continue regarding Coronavirus, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends “Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough. Stay informed. Visit the MDH and CDC websites often.” Click this link for more from MDH.
Have a good weekend, enjoy the warm weather and, as always, I welcome your input. I am finishing my week by attending an education symposium and may circle back with notes from that event next time.