Minnesota lawmakers got a welcome dose of good news Friday morning after state budget officials announced the state's projected surplus had swelled to $1.2 billion.
That's an increase of $408 million over the November budget forecast, according to Minnesota Management and Budget officials. Those extra dollars mean Minnesota legislators will have more options when it comes to tax cuts and spending increases.
Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said the state's improved budget situation signals that the state is on the right economic track.
"It's great that the economy is growing and growing fast, which is really a plus for the state of Minnesota," she said.
Norton added that the larger surplus also provides a major boost to efforts to repeal business-to-business taxes passed last year and to provide tax cuts to Minnesotans by aligning the state's tax law with the federal government's tax code. On Thursday, the Minnesota House Taxes Committee unveiled a $500 million tax cut package.
"That will make (those tax cuts) a very comfortable thing to do and that will get money back in people's pockets," she said.
Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, also welcomed the positive budget news.
"I'm glad we've got a positive balance. It should be no surprise that having raised taxes by over $2 billion last session that there would be a surplus," she said.
Nelson said given this projected surplus, it's time for lawmakers to move fast to repeal tax hikes passed last session. That includes a tax on farm equipment repairs and telecommunication purchases, along with a warehousing tax slated to start April 1.
She added, "The first thing we have to do is repeal those taxes that are damaging to our families and our economy and our businesses."