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Letter: Budget surplus is good news for Minnesotans

Last week, the Minnesota Management and Budget Office released the recent economic forecast showing a $1 billion budget surplus. This is one of two forecasts that get released each year to show how the economy is doing at various points throughout the budget process. The current surplus is a result of both increased revenue from an improving economy and decreased state spending as part of our 2013 budget.

One of the best results of the surplus is that our schools are now paid back all of the money they were owed due to the school shift put in place two years ago. For schools in our area, this means no more borrowing money to cover the loss of those funds. On top of the new investments in education that we made in the budget that passed earlier this year, this will help keep our schools on strong financial footing.

The cost of repaying the schools amounts to about $246 million. So that leaves Minnesota with about $850 in surplus funds to work with this upcoming legislative session. But that amount is subject to change as the economy changes over the next few months. If the economy continues to improve as I anticipate, the number will stay roughly the same or possibly increase. Either way, a surplus of any kind is always good news, especially when it means our schools are made whole again.

As we move closer to our next legislative session this February, our investments in job creation will help continue this positive trend. Our 2013 budget included $100 million in increased job funding to help offer low interest loans and grants to businesses who wanted to expand or start up operations in communities across the state. And just last week, the governor announced that Department for Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will be starting a $6.7 million Angel Investment Loan program that will offer no interest loans of up to $250,000 for business that are just starting up. Each day, more of those funds are being used to help create jobs and move our economy forward. I’m hopeful that those new jobs will mean more good news when the next forecast comes out in February.

John Persell

State Representative, DFL