The 2014 legislative session convened this week with a flood of committee hearings, rallies and meetings. It capped off Friday with the non-partisan Minnesota Budget and Managements (MMB) forecast of Minnesota’s financial position. The good news is Minnesota has a budget surplus of $1.233 billion. The improvement stems from revenue gains of $366 million and $48 million in lower-than-expected spending.
This positive forecast reinforces our argument that the state is in much better financial shape than a year ago. However, the difficultly lies in the decisions lawmakers make with the surplus. Our budgets reflect our priorities. So, we have to ask ourselves what’s important for the people of Minnesota right now. After more than a decade of chronic deficits, the surplus presents an opportunity to show some fiscal restraint, put funds into the budget reserve to withstand future economic volatility, plan for the future. But, it’s also an opportunity to make Minnesota work better for the people we are honored to represent.
As I move into my second session, I remain committed to build on our positive economic momentum by analyzing our budget, determining what investments are most likely to attract new and younger workers and passing responsible legislation that creates jobs, makes our schools and educational system better and brings down the costs of doing business in Minnesota.
I think it is vitally important that the legislature make responsible budget decisions with the surplus funds to ensure we don’t disrupt Minnesota’s positive economic progress. That said, I am eager to work with the Governor and our colleagues in the legislature from both sides of the aisle as we evaluate all options for the surplus dollars.