The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.
On Wednesday, the state released an update to last December’s budget forecast. The good news is a previously projected $188 million deficit has turned into a $329 million surplus. Help from the federal government in the form of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPs) funding helped reduce state expenditures in the Health & Human Services budget area by $247 million. The federal tax bill is pushing up GDP numbers and corporate tax collections have increased.
Still, the $329 million surplus figure represents less than 1% of the total state $46 billion biennial budget. Governor Dayton and DFL lawmakers urged caution on additional spending and suggested that a bonding bill in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion is the more appropriate focus for this session. GOP lawmakers met the forecast numbers with skepticism, suggesting the GDP figures and tax collection assumptions are artificially low. The bottom line is today’s forecast, while positive in that we have a surplus, does put a damper of hopes for additional budget items this session.
The few additional budget items that seem to have bi-partisan support at this time are fixing public employee pension programs and additional dollars for school safety features in the wake of recent school shootings. Here’s a link to additional budget forecast details: https://mn.gov/mmb/