To the Editor:
I was happy to receive news that Minnesota will benefit from its second consecutive budget surplus. State economists project Minnesota to have a $323 million windfall, added onto the $876 million surplus projected just three months ago.
Because of legislative actions, we came out and turned a mammoth $5 billion deficit into a positive $1.2 billion surplus in less than a year. There's no doubt the naysayers would be slamming our decisions if we faced another projected deficit, so I think it's time we take some credit for turning this economy around.
Spending restraint and revenue collections are spurring continued economic growth. In just three short months, income tax and sales tax collections have risen by $71 million.
State law requires any surplus to be used to replenish budget reserves and to pay back the school funding shift that has been enacted by legislatures during past budget cycles. $318 million of this latest surplus will help pay down this shift, and as long as these positive projections continue, the shift will be paid back in record time.
Let's remember, public schools are getting paid $50 per pupil by the state because of the shift, when in reality the inconvenience is costing them between $6 and $10 per child. That's a $40 per year return for letting us use their funding for a short period of time.
I truly expect that our days of projected deficits are coming to an end. We are putting people in Minnesota to work, which always takes care of state economic problems.
State Rep. Bob Gunther,