Will surplus grow?
Friday could be a big day for Minnesota taxpayers. The state will be getting its latest economic report from state finance officials, and chances are that the big state budget surplus we are expecting ($825 million after paying back the last of the money borrowed from schools) will be bigger.
So, what to do with all that money?
First things first: The state should move quickly to repeal the anti-business sales taxes that were approved last year. The sale taxes on farm equipment repairs, on telecommunications equipment and on warehouse services should get a quick hook.
The state should also give a raise to personal care aides whose pay has been frozen for the last three sessions.
After that, the Legislature should be guided by the principles of fiscal responsibility and returning as much of the surplus to taxpayers as possible. Building up the state’s rainy day fund is a good idea, but that could be built up as well by cutting the state’s unnecessary spending.
New spending measures would have to be very necessary – the House moved quickly and unanimously on Tuesday to put $22 million into emergency heating. This winter has created a great emergency for people, especially in the rural areas, where many people heat with propane.
We have no doubt there are billions of dollars worth of ideas for spending increases that will be proposed, but the state should resist the impulse to go on a spending spree.
A lot of decisions are waiting for the economic forecast coming up Friday. We hope it is a positive one.