Wiger: Budget Forecast Shows 'Positive News' for Minnesota
A column by Sen. Chuck Wiger.
Feb. 28 saw the release of the last budget forecast before the Senate adjourns in May. These are the numbers we will work with as we craft the state’s budget for the next two years.
We received positive news in the forecast. The projected deficit went from $1.1 billion to $627 million. We were able to pay our schools back another $290 million, but that still leaves us $801 million short of what we owe.
Overall, this is encouraging news. It shows Minnesota continues to move in the right direction and that our economy keeps improving. But it also highlights the work we still have to do.
The deficit is smaller, but it is still there. Cumulatively, Minnesota owes more than $1.4 billion. And this forecast doesn’t change our roller coaster budget cycles, where we lurch from one deficit to the next.
The last 10 years have seen cuts and one-time gimmicks to solve each fiscal crisis. And even with a recovering economy, we still have a shortfall. This session, we need to put Minnesota on a stable path forward, start investing in Minnesota again and work together to end the constant deficits.
The next few months will consist of looking closely at every penny of spending. As the E-12 Finance Chair, I will continue work on the education budget, making sure we make proper investments and insist on accountability for every dollar spent. We need to continue to find places where government can be more efficient, cut spending when it is appropriate and improve overall productivity. One of the reasons we see an improved forecast is because of the reforms and efficiencies Governor Dayton put in place.
It is important we continue to save money wherever we can. It will allow us to make the investments we need in education, transportation, health services, our veterans and other important programs. That is how we put Minnesota on the path to long-term success – by making the investments today that will help us tomorrow and in the future.
I will spend much of my time working on the education budget, but please feel free to contact me about any issue that concerns you. My office number is 651-296-6820 or you can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, you are free to stop by and visit me. I’m in 205 at the Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55155.