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WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 29, 2012, 10:48 PM

Minnesota projects over $320 million budget surplus

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - Steady and consistent. That's what is being said about economic conditions in Minnesota after a new prediction of a budget surplus. The lead budget official is releasing a forecast showing a $323 million surplus. That's on top of an $876 million surplus predicted last November.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Steady and consistent. That's what is being said about economic conditions in Minnesota after a new prediction of a budget surplus. The lead budget official is releasing a forecast showing a $323 million surplus. That's on top of an $876 million surplus predicted last November.

The new surplus is already spent, though. It will replenish the reserve fund and repay school IOUs.

“The fiscal issues that are in front of the state aren't resolved with this forecast or the previous one and will take quite a bit of effort to resolve. About 2.4 billion dollars of 8 payment shifts remain after this is done.”

Lawmakers and Governor Dayton can reach a deal to spend the extra money, differently.

The projected surplus is positive. It means local governments can hold the line on taxes. Elected leaders had been considering raising taxes and cuts to services to make up for expected state withholdings.

Seventy-five percent of that budget improvement is because of lower than expected spending. Much in health care programs for the poor, which enrolled fewer people. Locally, leaders like the outlook.

Grant Weyland – Clay County Commissioner: “Compared to a shortfall, it's very good news.”

Budget surplus. Two words elected leaders haven't heard in some time, but now that have them, ecstatic.

Mark Voxland – Moorhead Mayor: “It was good to see that the economy in Minnesota is still strong and it's moving forward.”

State Senator Keith Langseth – DFL Glydon: “In total now, we're up about $1.2 million so things are looking quite a bit better.”

An extra $323 million means the city of Moorhead can keep its budget for the year, one set in December. City leaders will likely not have to worry.

Mark Voxland: “And not get cut like we did 2011, 2010, and 2009 by the state.”

Services have been hit hard: Roads, bridges, social services. These are just some areas cut recently to make up for a huge loss in state funds.

Grant Weyland: “There really are very few areas countywide that we haven't had to make some sort of cut.”

Mark Voxland: “We shouldn't be seeing cuts in local government aid. We shouldn't be seeing changes in laws that are going to affect our budget dollars.”

Local governments have struggled to maintain those services and not lay off employees. This latest budget surplus means things can stay the same and has Minnesotans believing in better days.

Grant Weyland: “My hope is that in the future you know we'll see the cuts decrease or maybe go away all together if we continue to see some surpluses.”

Minnesota still faces a $1.1billion deficit the next two year budget, beginning next July.

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