Minnesota lawmakers begin debating how to use budget surplus

Minnesota lawmakers begin debating how to use budget surplus

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) — Minnesota economists say the state’s budget outlook has swung from a $1.3 billion deficit to a $1.6 billion surplus.

According to the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget, the numbers are due to an improved US economic outlook, which has been bolstered by stimulus measures the federal government has taken since the state department issued its last forecast in November.

The agency cites a higher revenue forecast, lower projected state spending and an increased surplus for the current fiscal year, but they say the rising tide hasn’t lifted all boats as unemployment continues to disproportionately impact lower-wage workers.

Now, it’s time for lawmakers to craft a state budget.

Sen. Nick Frentz (DFL-North Mankato) says the surplus should allow the state some flexibility during the pandemic.

“As a state, as a whole, we’ve done really well. But it also told us that some of our small businesses and some of our working men and women have not done as well, so we want to take this information and try to find ways to help those small businesses and help those working men and women.”

Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) says he wants to return the surplus to taxpayers.

”I’ll be reintroducing the ‘Give It Back Act’ this year. I did it last year when we had a projected surplus. It would be $2,000 per taxpayer or $4,000 per joint filer, and that’s a huge return to the taxpayers.”

The current fiscal year ends June 30th.

Lawmakers will have to agree on a budget by the end of the session or they will have to meet for a special session.

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