Tricounty News

State economic news from Jeff Howe

We received good news in our latest economic forecast. It indicates a fourth consecutive positive report, where our state generated more revenue than previously projected.

The latest report from Minnesota Management & Budget reveals $463 million more in revenue for 2014-15 than projected last November. The report also calls for a $295 million positive balance for fiscal year 2012-13. The string of four positive reports adds up to nearly $3 billion in surplus revenue since November of 2011. We also have significantly reduced the projected shortfall for 2014-15, from $1.1 billion down to $627 million.

State law stipulates how surplus funds must be used when certain conditions exist. In this case, $290 million will go toward repaying K-12 debt and the rest will be applied to reserve accounts.

This economic news will kick-start budget work at the Capitol. Reports continue to provide evidence we can set a new budget without raising taxes, as long as we keep our spending total to within our 3-percent rate of growth.

I believe that this shows that current policy is working and is successful, so why change what works? The current statistics indicate that the state will have a substantial surplus in the next biennium if we don’t change a thing. The state has increased revenue without raising taxes. Let’s continue to provide that stability in our economy so that more jobs can be provided.

My hope is that the legislative majorities review the proposals to raise taxes and not view this increase in revenue as more money to spend on growing government.

In other news:

Officer Decker

The bill I authored to name the stretch of Highway 23 between Paynesville and Richmond in honor of slain Cold Spring police officer Tom Decker should soon reach the House floor for a vote. The bill seems to have broad support in the Legislature.

House Resolutions

I have authored a couple of House Resolutions recently to recognize local citizens. One honors Lawrence Huschle, who recently was awarded a Purple Heart nearly 70 years after heroically serving in World War II. The other Resolution honors Brad Thelen, an 18-year veteran of the Waite Park Police Department before cancer recently claimed his life. Among his honors, Thelen received a Medal of Valor for saving a suicidal person from drowning. It is my honor to prepare a Resolution to honor the service from both of these great men.

Rep. Jeff Howe