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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • State forecasts $1 billion surplus

  • “Any time we see a surplus that is good news,” said District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms, “but we have to wait and see how solid this is in February.”
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  • The Minnesota Budget and Management Office recently offered its budget outlook, and the forecast for fiscal year 2014-15 is currently indicating a $1.086 billion surplus.
    According to its report, “changes in the forecast general fund revenue and expenditures for the current biennium have increased the projected balance for FY 2014-15 from $47 million to $1.086 billion.”
    “Any time we see a surplus that is good news,” said District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms, “but we have to wait and see how solid this is in February.”
    Dahms said the November forecast is a very preliminary number, adding a lot can change between now and February, and it is that forecast which is going to be used when the session begins in 2014.
    If the numbers hold up there are some debts the state needs to pay back, said Dahms, including the final amount of the school shift funding that was used in the past to help balance a state budget deficit.
    Dahms is also hopeful if the budget surplus remains some other actions can take place, including the elimination of some of the business to business taxes that were implemented. He is also hoping to put some of that money away.
    “We have met the statutory reserve limit, but more could be done,” added Dahms.
    According to District 22 Sen. Bill Weber, who represents a small portion of southern Redwood County, the reality is the full impact of those taxes which were implemented this past session have not been realized, and he thinks that has the potential to change that final budget number.
    Those taxes, he said, could negatively impact businesses in the state, which could hurt their bottom line. Lower income then could mean less in tax revenue, which in turn means less money coming in to the state.
    “The surplus number we saw was achieved on the backs of Minnesota taxpayers,” he said.
    A couple of the taxes in particular some legislators would like to see repealed are the warehouse tax, which is scheduled to start in April.
    That tax, said District 16B Rep. Paul Torkelson, is something many in the legislature have talked about a lot since the session ended. There was even some talk about holding a special session to repeal that tax.
    Yet, added Torkelson, talking is not the same as doing.
    Another tax some are hoping to see repealed is a sales tax on farm implement repairs.
    The sales tax bill did go into effect this year, but the hope is to have that repealed, said Torkelson.
    One thing that might make a difference by the time the February forecast comes out is the retail impact from the holiday shopping season, said District 16A Rep. Chris Swedzinski. A good result could mean a positive outcome in revenue.
    Page 2 of 2 - Swedzinski said any tax cuts made in 2014 may be too little too late for some, as he said he has talked with businesses which are in the planning stages of moving out of Minnesota.
    For District 16 Sen. Lyle Koenen, who represents Renville County as part of his district, the changes which have been put in place are positive ones for the state as is indicated by the budget surplus.
    Yet, he also cautioned the real numbers are yet to be seen in February, but he is confident those numbers are going to be similar or maybe even better.
    As legislators look to the start of the 2014 session, which is scheduled to start Feb. 25, much of the discussion is going to center on the bonding bill, but Koenen said there are also other things which are going to be discussed, in-cluding the idea of an “unsession” for the second year of a biennium. That, he said, would eliminate the second session, and he said there has been serious talk about that.
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