Lawmakers Share Their Ideas For Budget Surplus

Lawmakers Share Their Ideas For Budget Surplus Click to Enlarge Photo: Jennifer Lewerenz

(KNSI) - Minnesota budget officials are projecting a $1.3 billion surplus in the current two-year budget.

The new forecast sets up contentious debates for the 2020 legislative session on whether to save the extra money or spend it, possibly to cover tax cuts.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka was a guest on KNSI's Ox in the Afternoon and had an idea of what should be done with the surplus.

"All our reserve accounts, which is like our savings account, that has reached its ceiling, and so, the question is, what do we do with the rest and I'm telling folks it's time to give it back."

He wants to give it back to Minnesotans in the form of tax cuts and fee reductions.

Gazelka says the surplus shows that tax cuts are spurring economic growth, and he's telling Democrats that the state doesn't need any tax increases.

"They know we're not going to let them raise taxes. We will not allow a gas tax. We are not going to do that because we don't believe it's our money. It's the taxpayers' money."

St. Cloud Democrat Representative Dan Wolgamott was also a guest of Dan "The Ox" Ochsner and says the surplus is really more of a balanced budget because it doesn't take into account inflation.

"Not to rain on the parade or anything, but we want to take a long term look at this and make sure we're budgeting smart, and we're budgeting for the future, and we're budgeting for the needs of Minnesota."

He thinks the state should be cautious before rushing into any tax increases or tax cuts.

Wolgamott says he wants to hear from St. Cloud area residents on how the surplus should be spent.

"We've got two months left until the session, and I want to hear from you and what you think we should. What do you think we should put this money towards."

Governor Tim Walz is urging caution, given that the forecast predicts slower economic growth.

But he says there's enough money for a sizable bonding bill for public works projects.

The budget forecast was released on Thursday. The legislative session starts in February.

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