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Minnesota's Budget Surplus: One-Billion Dollars

PHOTO: The new state budget forecast is projecting a $1 billion surplus, and that has some Minnesota groups pushing for investments in areas such as early education and child care. Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr.
PHOTO: The new state budget forecast is projecting a $1 billion surplus, and that has some Minnesota groups pushing for investments in areas such as early education and child care. Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr.
December 5, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It appears Minnesota has fully regained its financial footing post-recession, with the latest state budget forecast projecting a surplus of $1 billion.

The new estimate paints a vastly brighter picture than that of just three years ago, when the state was facing a deficit of more than $1 billion.

Brian Rusche, executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, credited decisions in the last couple of sessions to solidify revenue, along with some changes on economic policy.

"To make the business environment attractive ... has invested in our workforce and our economy has responded," he said, "So it seems like we've righted the financial ship and the state is in a much healthier financial position than it's been in for a very long time."

This forecast sets an initial yardstick for Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers in the House and Senate, who will need to agree on a new state budget in the 2015 session.

The projected $1 billion surplus is leading to calls for investments focused on economic improvements for Minnesota's working families and their kids. Vital to that effort, said Deb Fitzpatrick, director of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, would be the expansion of child-care assistance.

"As we've come out of the recession and reinvested in other parts of our budget, child care is one area where we've continued to lag," she said. "That really compromises our ability to have those women in the workforce, to have those kids in stable, safe places while families are working."

Fitzpatrick said there are currently more than 7,000 families who are eligible for child-care assistance but on the waiting list because of inadequate funding.

The forecast is online at mn.gov/mmb/forecast/forecast.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN