What to do with extra money
It seems the state of Minnesota has some extra money. A lot of extra money.
The November Budget and Economic Forecast issued last week by Minnesota Management and Budget shows that the General Fund is projected to have a surplus of $17.6 billion for the 2024-2025 biennium.
So now the suggestions begin, what can the state do with the surplus.
In announcing the surplus, Gov. Tim Walz said that the news “is proof that Minnesota’s economy is strong and growing. One thing is clear: this surplus is a result of the students, small businesses, and working families whose hard work and creativity make our economy one of the most resilient and diverse in the country.”
He went on, “the case for sending money back to Minnesotans to help with rising costs has never been stronger. Together, we have a golden opportunity to do that while also investing in our workforce, our schools and our kids — all while lowering costs for our middle-class families, small businesses, and seniors.”
Sen. Carla Nelson, who will be representing Dodge County and Byron when the Legislature convenes in January, said, “Minnesota’s $17.6 billion budget surplus means that we’ve taken too much money from taxpayers, and we need to give it back to them in the form of real, significant tax relief. Permanent, structural relief is the only way to help working families as they struggle with soaring inflation and rising prices for gas, groceries, and energy.
“Middle-class and working families in Minnesota need tax relief the most, and the surplus provides us with a chance to reduce some of their financial stress.”
Everyone, from politicians to everyday citizens, has or will have suggestions as to what to do with the surplus. Reducing the Minnesota tax rates rate high on many lists of suggestions. There have been suggestions for investing in programs for children and the elderly, paid family leave, and rebate checks for residents.
No doubt when the Legislature begins its January session the ideas will be coming fast and furious from both the left and right sides of the aisle.
One area where they may be able to agree is on eliminating the repeal of state taxes on Social Security. Walz has said he favors this for “a large number of Minnesotans” while Nelson has advocated “a full elimination of the state’s tax on Social benefits and a real income tax rate reduction.”
One thing the surplus does is give the state legislature and governor a chance to do what they are hired to do. Make good decisions for the people of Minnesota. Yes, there are differences in opinions as to what those “good decisions” are, but this is a perfect opportunity for both sides to present their ideas and then to listen to the ideas of the other side and thoughtfully consider them and reach a consensus. No one side will get everything they want but this can be an opportunity to not only make those “good decisions” but also to demonstrate to the people of the state that our elected officials can rise above party politics and disagreements.