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State revenues better than forecast

ST. PAUL — December revenues collected by Minnesota state government were 5.4 percent higher than expected just a month ago.

Minnesota Management and Budget reported Friday that individual income tax payments were $90 million more than planned in December, up 6.7 percent. Sales tax rose $37 million, or 4.6 percent, above expectations.

State officials cautioned, however, that much of the revenue bump may have been because more than the usual number of Minnesotans paid taxes in December to take advantage of 2013 tax deductions.

A more comprehensive forecast will come soon after the 2014 Legislature convenes Feb. 25, giving lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton an idea of how much money they will have.

An early December report showed an $825 million state surplus after money owed to state schools is repaid. Friday's report would add $172 million to that surplus.

Minnesota's House speaker credited an economic improvement for the better numbers and said they show that the state now can help the middle class with initiatives such as raising the minimum wage.

“Minnesota’s economy has continued to grow at a faster pace than the rest of the nation, which is a testament to our great workforce and businesses," said Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis. "Our economy is on the right track and we need to continue focusing on ways to make more progress."

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