No matter how the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton resolve the budget deficit — and resolve it they must, under the state Constitution — Minnesota will probably continue to have cash flow problems.
That’s what Jim Schowalter, the commissioner Minnesota Management & Budget, told the House Ways and Means Committee Monday, says House Public Information Services.
The state’s cash reserves have been cut because of the weak economy, and lower-than-expected tax collections have caused the state to draw down its cash reserves, so money has been transferred from account to account to pay for daily operations. Payments to schools have been delayed and they’ve even considered short-term borrowing.
Will those cash-flow problems improve under the governor’s budget proposal? wondered Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, a Republican from Lakeville. She’s chair of the committee and was referring to the governor’s plan to raise $4 billion with tax increases on the very rich.
Maybe not, Schowalter said, because cash flow problems will continue whether the $6.2 billion deficit is resolved with tax increases or spending cuts. The problem: several years’ worth of accumulated budget pressure.
“Cash flow is closely linked to level of reserves. Ultimately, we need to get those reserves back up, and increase them as the economy gets better,” Schowalter said.
When the state’s February Economic Forecast is issued Monday, high tax revenues could signal a small deficit, and Dayton would replenish the cash flow account if the forecast predicts any additional revenues, the story said.
The bottom line:
“My suspicion is that we would have to continue to very closely manage cash for the next several years,” Schowalter said.