February 26, 2016

Minnesota has $900 million budget surplus; lower than expected

The new budget surplus will set the parameters for new legislative fight. 

Minnesota has a lower than expected budget surplus of $900 million that will become the focus of the upcoming legislative session that starts March 8.

 Minnesota state budget officials released the budget number Friday morning, hours before a news conference to release the state’s economic and budget forecast.

 Officials had been counting on $1.2 billion for the session. State leaders announced a $1.9 projected surplus back in November, but a new state law dictates that more than $600,000 go to the Minnesota’s budget reserves.

 The new number will now frame the budget fight at the Capitol, where Gov. Mark Dayton and legislators are already debating between tax cuts and new spending on early childhood education and other initiatives.

 State leaders couldn’t agree on how to spend the bulk of the budget surplus last legislative session, which means legislators will again have a sizable surplus to battle over.

Spending the money could be come particularly tricky in an election year, when Republicans are trying to hold control of the House and Democrats are trying to hold the Senate.