Get ready for the frenzy, Minnesota.
Lawmakers will have an extra $1.86 billion to spend as they craft the state’s two-year budget this session, and a lot of interest groups are already clamoring to take a bite out of that money.
State budget officials released the February forecast numbers Friday morning, showing estimates for the 2016-2017 biennium are up about $832 million from projections last November. The boost comes from a $616 million increase in projected revenue for the next two years and a $115 million drop in spending. The bottom line is also bolstered by an additional $107 million in savings for the current biennium, which gets tacked on to the next two-year budget.
Sunnier economic conditions led most Capitol watchers to believe the surplus would grow in the February forecast, but few predicted it would nearly double.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has already said he wants to use some extra surplus money to help finance an $850 million bonding bill this session. Lawmakers are also battling over how much to spend on road, bridge and transit improvements over the next few years.
Republicans have already proposed taking a bite out of the surplus to put into roads and bridges. And that doesn’t include the other spendy proposals that have been introduced this session: funding for pre-kindergarten education, broadband investments, long-term care initatives and free tuition at two-year college campuses, to name a few.
Budget officials and lawmakers will respond to the new numbers later Friday morning.