February forecast shows some recovery but more work is needed

The February budget forecast received this week shows a projected budget deficit of $627 million for the 2014-15 biennium. This is an improvement of $463 million from the November budget forecast that showed a projected deficit of $1.1 billion. I am confident that we can find common sense long term solutions giving Minnesota a sound financial future.
For over a decade, we have relied on shifts, borrowing, and one-time solutions to fix our budget problems. We should seize this opportunity to create a sustainable budget by making smart reforms to our tax system and investing in our shared priorities. With the budget deficit cut almost in half, it will be less challenging to fund investments critical for Minnesota’s future. New investments in schools, colleges and universities, nursing homes, and property tax relief are now a possibility. These investments are opportunities for long-term economic growth and provide support for Minnesota’s future generations.
The steady reduction in the deficit is encouraging; however the real budget work still lies ahead. Raising the revenue for these programs is part of our continuing budget discussion. During the next few weeks, we will take another look at Governor Dayton’s plan in the context of this most recent budget information. We have already begun hearing parts of the Governor’s plan in the Senate Tax Committee. Even so, we are still in the early stages of the budget discussion and it is important that no solutions are taken off the table.
An honest budget is not only one that is balanced for this year, but one that ensures long-term budget stability. I am encouraged by the direction Minnesota’s economy is moving and I look forward to the continued budget discussions with the Governor, fellow lawmakers, and constituents.
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Senator Rod Skoe
Rod Skoe represents District 2, which includes all or portions of Becker, Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Otter Tail and Wadena counties in the northwestern part of the state. He chairs the Tax Committee.

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