Minnesota lawmakers found out on Wednesday that they will have a 329-million dollar budget surplus this year.
House Rep. Clark Johnson (D-North Mankato) says it’s good news for the state for keeping a stable budget.
“I think rural Minnesota is particularly vulnerable and our area is particularly vulnerable when we have unstable budgets. Because one of the first places they cut is Local Government Aid (LGA) and local county aid. They can force local governments to raise property taxes when the state doesn’t want to raise taxes. That really has huge ramifications for communities in our area.”
Johnson adds that a stable budget also prevents tuition raises at area schools like Minnesota State University-Mankato and South Central College.
“When there’s not money, it’s easy to push along instead of having enough revenue to fund higher education and get the students to do it. Well, that’s how we’ve come to debt crises. So, the value of a stable budget isn’t maybe at the forefront of tax payers minds, but boy it’s important.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Dayton called the surplus modest and cautioned lawmakers against overspending. Johnson says he would like to see some of the money directed at building up the reserves.
“We wont always have times of surplus. Because the nature of our tax structure, we’re a little more volatile then some other states. We know that when we go into a deep deficit, it can be quite severe.”
Gov. Dayton plans to release a detailed budget proposal on March 15.