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State announces $329 million budget surplus

State announces $329 million budget surplus
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Minnesota has a “modest structural balance” projected into the next two-year budget in 2020 and 2021.

Minnesota has a $329 million budget surplus, according to state budget officials, a figure state lawmakers will debate how to spend during the 2018 legislative session.

Minnesota Management and Budget released the February budget forecast on Wednesday, noting that revenue collections are up by $353 million for “all the major tax types” due to short-term stimulus from the federal tax bill. State spending is also down by $167 million, in large part because Congress reauthorized funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in February.

The forecast has increased considerably since November, when officials projected a $188 million budget deficit. At that point, Congress had not yet reauthorized funding for CHIP, leaving a hole in the state’s budget.

The release of the budget number typically kicks off a frenzy in St. Paul, with top leaders and interest groups all hoping to get a piece of the pie, even if the number represents a small fraction of the state’s overall $46 billion budget.

There are already plenty of priorities on the agenda this year that could cost the state money, including a federal tax conformity bill, new funding for school safety proposals and ongoing technical issues with a state driver’s licensing and registration system.

Gov. Mark Dayton and all four legislative leaders will brief reporters on their response to the forecast Wednesday afternoon.

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