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Billion-dollar surplus latest good economic news for Minnesota

The forecast means the state will be able to pay off all of its debts — including repaying the remaining $246 million owed to schools — and still have more than an $800 million surplus.

Gov. Mark Dayton
MinnPost photo by James NordGov. Mark Dayton

The good economic news keeps on coming for Minnesota.

The office of Management and Budget today released its forecast (PDF) for the coming year, a forecast that shows a surplus of $1.08 billion — that’s billion — for the coming year.

The forecast means the state will be able to pay off all of its debts — the remaining $246 million owed to schools and $15 million owed to a state airports fund — and still have more than an $800 million surplus.

This is heady stuff for those who rememeber years of begging and borrowing as pols tried to cobble  together budgets that techinically were balanced.

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The surplus, means, according to Jim Schowalter, who heads the MMB office, that Minnesota is “one of the leading states in the country in terms of economic performance.’’

Gov. Mark Dayton’s office released a statement taking credit for the positive budget news.

It also said that all of the jobs during the “great recession” have been recovered; that since August, Minnesota has gain 13,000 jobs and since January 2011 (when Dayton took office) the state has added 122,000 jobs.

All of this heart-warming news on a cold December day doesn’t mean there won’t be things to argue over.

Surely, this sets the stage for some of the taxes that the DFL Legislature and the governor sought in the last session to be rolled back.  Some of those taxes — such as a warehouse sales tax — have not even begun yet.

That warehouse tax, a favorite target of Republicans, is almost certain to be eliminated. There are some other business-to-business taxes, particularly relating to the ag industry, that likely will be chopped.

And likely, there still will be funds left over, likely in the neighborhood of a half-billion dollars.

Full details of the budget forecast are to be announced later this morning.

Following the MMB presentation, DFL and Republican legislative leaders are lining up to comment. Leaders of both parties, of course, will take credit for the surplus.