It is my great pleasure to serve as your state senator in District 51. After a long and productive session in 2013, we must now turn to 2014 and get to work tackling the issues that are facing our district and all of Minnesota.
Thanks to a steadily improving economy, we are now looking at a budget surplus of approximately $1.233 billion for fiscal year 2014-2015. This is good news for the state and shows that we have come a long way since only last year, when we were facing a deficit that went into the hundreds of millions.
Now that our fiscal house is in order, we should have a conversation about what to do with this budget surplus. It’s important for us to manage our expectations on what to do with this opportunity. I think there are some very worthy measures we can take in handling this surplus that will not bust our budget.
One topic that has been widely discussed is what we could do with the so-called “business to business” taxes. As a major piece of our budget, these taxes were enacted to help us create an honest budget, free of gimmicks and one time tricks. Thanks to this surplus, I believe we must carefully and responsibly address these taxes.
Although the state has many critical needs, we must not overlook the state’s budget reserve. This “rainy day” fund lets us be prepared for any economic downturns that may occur. Currently our reserve is at a dangerously low level. With a state budget of $39 billion, our reserve sits at approximately $1 billion – a drop in the bucket compared to where we should be. If we want to put Minnesota on a strong foundation, we must strengthen these reserves.
We are just finishing our first week of session, in what promises to be a short but busy session. In the next few weeks, my colleagues and I will be discussing our capital investment needs across the state, the minimum wage, the need for a comprehensive transportation bill and other important issues. I encourage you to get involved in the process and contact my office if you have questions or concerns about anything coming up this session. Let us work together to keep Minnesota growing.