The billion dollar question

State Rep. Joe Atkins
District 52B

For the first time in an awfully long time, Minnesota’s Management and Budget Office is projecting a state budget surplus.  Already there are proposals emerging about what to do with it:  tax cuts, placing it in a reserve account, and/or spending it on things like roads and bridges, just to name a few.  I would appreciate South-West Review readers’ input on these ideas. 

Below is some background information.  

$1 billion surplus 

As noted above, the state’s economists are projecting a $1.086 billion surplus for the current two-year budget cycle.  This is a result not only of more revenue coming in than anticipated, but also of expenses being reduced.  State spending is down $247 million compared to what was budgeted.  

Paying back schools

$2.8 billion was borrowed from Minnesota’s schools to balance the last state budget.  I voted against that borrowing.  Even though I opposed the borrowing, I have been one of the most ardent supporters of paying it back as soon as possible.  With this budget surplus, on top of what we have paid back to the schools already, the school loan will now be paid back in full.   

Where does the rest go?

Gov. Dayton has proposed tax cuts.  Others have proposed placing the funds in a reserve account.  Still others have suggested spending it on things like roads and bridges, on additional health services for the disabled and elderly, or by returning it to taxpayers in some manner.  

Survey

What would you do with the surplus?  I would appreciate readers’ input.  I have included all of the proposals below I have heard thus far.  

A.  Return the surplus to taxpayers
B.  Place it in a reserve account
C.  Reduce income taxes
D.  Reduce property taxes or send out property tax refunds
E.  Repair the controversial warehouse tax and other business taxes
F.  Road and bridges
G.  More funding for health care for the disabled and elderly
H.  Buy 83,861,003 pepperoni pizzas at Old World (one of my kids came up with this one)
I.   Other:  

It is okay to support more than one proposal.  Readers can weigh in by emailing me at Rep.Joe.Atkins@house.mn, or by giving me a call at the Capitol at 651-296-4192.  Thank you.
 

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