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State Revenue Surplus: What Now?

November 30, 2006

St. Paul, MN - Minnesota will start the new year with a budget surplus of over $2 billion, according to state revenue projections released Wednesday. Ideas of what to do with the money are coming in, including proposals for another taxpayer refund. Others mention investing in underfunded programs and middle-income families. Eliot Seide with AFSCME Council 5, the state's largest public workers union, says there's strong support for investing in the basics.

"Minnesota voters sent a clear message that they want to invest in education, health care and transportation. They also want property tax relief through restoration of local government aid."

Seide says a quick tax rebate won't have the impact of a prudent, long term investment.

"There's been a complete slowdown in real wages and corporate profits have soared. Boosting wages is the best thing we can do to fuel our economic engine; if working families earn more, they spend more on homes, cars and food. That creates a healthy economy, and it creates prosperity for all. The multiplier effect will make this economy stronger."

Seide adds investments in public infrastructure pay off by attracting businesses, creating jobs and improving the state's quality of life.

There will be one more budget projection before the next state Legislature gets down to business early next year and the numbers could change. One cautionary factor is the sliding real estate market.

AFSCME Council 5 represents over 43,000 public and nonprofit workers.

Chris Thomas/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN