Dayton’s budget provides more tax relief

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday proposed his supplemental budget of tax and spending changes. The governor’s proposal comes after the Minnesota Management & Budget last Friday released the February economic forecast that projected a $408 million increase in the General Fund surplus. The surplus is now pegged at $1.23 billion for the 2014-2015 budget period that ends June 30, 2015.

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State budget surplus grows by $408 million

The outlook for the state’s budget surplus got a little sweeter.State lawmakers now have an extra $1.23 billion to spend for the current 2014-2015 biennium that ends June 30, 2015. The news, delivered in Minnesota Management & Budget’s twice annual economic forecast, shows a $408 million improvement from the previous surplus reported in early December.The February Economic Forecast released Friday shows that the economy is once again growing after the deep economic recession of 2008 and early 2009 that opened up barrels full of red ink in the state’s budget. MMB Commissioner Jim Schowalter said $366 million of the $408 million improvement from the earlier forecast was attributed to increased projections in tax collections.“This forecast improvement is due almost entirely to better revenues that were driven by a better economy,” Schowalter said.This is the first time since 2006 that state lawmakers have entered an even-numbered year session with a sizeable budget surplus, according to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Analysis Department. Lawmakers convened the 2014 session on Tuesday, and ideas abound on both sides of the aisle about what do with the largesse.Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders of the House and Senate DFL majorities are already articulating a handful of priorities for the money. But they don’t yet appear to have the consensus needed to sign-off on a global agreement. Continue Reading

What is Move MN?

There has been a lot of buzz statewide about the Move MN campaign as the start of the legislative session on February 25th nears. Move MN has been covered by the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, MinnPost, City Pages and several outstate newspapers – visit this page for a roundup. As someone familiar with Move MN through my employer, I want to provide an overview and then pose some questions for discussion. Continue Reading

OPINION | Minnesota’s fiscal future: 2014 and beyond

The year just ended was a momentous one. A decade of declining public revenue was reversed , with renewed investment in education, infrastructure, worker training, and healthcare. Furthermore, the dollars needed to fund these public assets were generated in a way that will reduce the regressivity of Minnesota’s tax system. However, despite the far-reaching changes made on the tax and spending front in 2013, some heavy lifting remains before us in 2014.

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State has projected $825 million budget surplus

State leaders will enter the 2014 legislative session with a projected $825 million budget surplus. However, caution is being urged.Those were the messages from Minnesota Management & Budget as the November Economic Forecast was released. The twice-annual forecast provides a snapshot of the state’s economy and predicts if the state should have a projected surplus or budget deficit.“This is certainly a better problem to have than the alternative,” said Gov. Mark Dayton.According to MMB, the projected balance for the 2014-15 biennium is $1.086 billion; however, the first $246 million of the balance must statutorily be used to complete repayment of the K-12 school property tax recognition shift. Another $15 million will go to the state airports fund to restore money that was first borrowed in 2008.“Paying back our schools is a victory for Minnesota kids and for our future,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls). “In addition, our commitment to responsible budgeting is paying off. Continue Reading

A decade of school funding cuts reversed

After a decade of cuts in real (i.e., inflation adjusted) per pupil state support for K-12 education, the FY 2014-15 budget passed during the 2013 legislation session provided a significant increase in state aid. The increase in state funding projected to occur from FY 2013 to FY 2015 under the recently approved budget is sufficient to replace about one-third of the real per pupil school district aid loss that occurred over the previous decade.

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