Minnesota surplus is a good thing

/ 20 March 2012 / jennifer

Rhett Zenke, Letter to the editor, Winona Daily News, March 20, 2012 –

In a recent letter, Jack Krage, who has announced he is running for state Senate as a Democrat this fall, makes misleading comments about the budget surplus in Minnesota and makes it sound like bad news. Mr. Krage had better get his facts straight if he is serious about challenging Sen. Jeremy Miller.

Before the current Republican majorities were sworn into the Minnesota House and Senate, the November 2010 budget forecast showed a projected budget deficit of more than $6 billion. In addition, the state’s cash flow and budget reserve accounts were empty.

The previous Democratic-controlled Legislature also passed on more than $1.4 billion of IOUs that the state had borrowed from our public schools in the way of shifts from previous years.

Eventually, legislative leaders and the governor agreed to a compromise budget solution that shifted $740 million from our public schools. Gov. Mark Dayton actually wanted to shift even more from our schools, but Republicans would not agree. However, the Legislature did say they would make it a priority to pay back the shift as soon as possible, which they have done.

Strong fiscal discipline and the slowing of out-of-control government spending by the legislative branch proved to be the right solution for our state. The nonpartisan November 2011 budget forecast showed a budget surplus of $876 million. In addition, the February 2012 forecast showed an additional surplus of $323 million, for a total surplus of $1.2 billion. Under Republican majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate, our state went from a projected $6 billion deficit to a $1.2 billion surplus.

Because of the budget surplus, our state’s cash flow and budget reserve account are full and our schools will be paid back $200 million of the school shift this month and an additional $100 million in June.

It doesn’t matter what your political stripes are, the state’s budget surplus is good news and our state is in much better financial position today than we were one year ago. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Krage is trying to say that the first budget surplus since 2007 is bad for our state.