Minnesota revenue report due out Thursday
ST. PAUL - The wraps are about to come off a top-secret report that lays the groundwork on what likely will be a $40 billion, two-year Minnesota state budget.
ST. PAUL – The wraps are about to come off a top-secret report that lays the groundwork on what likely will be a $40 billion, two-year Minnesota state budget.
What is called the state “budget forecast” will be unveiled to the public at 11 a.m. Thursday in the state Capitol, a couple of hours after a short summary of it is to be distributed to reporters and key state officials are told what to expect. The forecast predicts state revenue for the next two years, which Gov. Mark Dayton and the state’s 201 legislators will use to draw up a plan about how to fund programs ranging from health care to construction.
Most observers expect a budget surplus, which would be a relief to state officials who just four years ago faced a $6 billion deficit. Until some state leaders are briefed about the revenue report before the public event, only a few people know if it will show a deficit or surplus, and how much.
Dayton this week said his newest best guess is a $900 million surplus, but even he had not been told the amount.
“We’re seeing good job growth, and the economy is back on track, but it’s just not as robust as everyone would like,” Commissioner Jim Schowalter of Minnesota Management and Budget said last week, before a “cone of silence” was placed over people who are writing the forecast.
The Democratic governor has been quiet about specifics that he would include in his budget proposal, due to be handed to legislators Jan. 27. However, he said that a priority will be extending child care tax credits. He also has pledged to raise education funding in every budget.
Once Dayton releases his proposal, the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate will draw up their own plans. All budget outlines will be altered when a new revenue forecast comes out in late February or early March.
To produce the forecast, state economists take information from a national firm that draws up a detailed prediction of economic changes. State officials then make predictions from that about how economic trends will affect taxes and other revenues coming into the state.