Overview: Second week

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The Minnesota Senate kicked off the second week of the 2018 session on a light note – former Olympic hockey player Senator David Tomassoni rose on the Senate Floor Monday to congratulate fellow Chisholm native John Shuster and his USA Curling teammates on winning the United States’ first-ever Olympic gold medal in curling. The entire Senate chamber rose to a standing ovation in response to Sen. Tomassoni’s speech.

On Wednesday, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released a new forecast that projects a $329 million budget surplus for the current biennium. Less than 10 years ago, Minnesota faced a $6 billion budget deficit. The remarkable fiscal turnaround is due in large part to a prudent decision made by Governor Dayton and DFL lawmakers to raise income taxes by 2% on the richest 2% of Minnesotans in 2013.

State lawmakers are now tasked with determining what to do with the budget surplus. Options include passage of a supplemental budget, adding savings to the state’s rainy-day fund, financing a bonding bill, or leaving the money on the state’s bottom line. What we do know is that federal tax reform and ongoing dysfunction in a Republican-controlled Congress create a lot of uncertainty for state finances. Senate DFL Leader Tom Bakk urged Minnesotans to be cautious in reacting to the new budget figures, adding that state lawmakers should not “overcommit” and instead take prudent steps to ensure a structurally balanced budget.