Northland state lawmakers react to Minnesota budget surplus

The Minnesota state capitol building in St. Paul, Minn.
The Minnesota state capitol building in St. Paul, Minn.(KEYC News Now)
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 9:16 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- When Minnesota lawmakers head back to St. Paul for the new legislative session next month, they’ll have a massive budget surplus to work with.

Minnesota budget leaders announced Tuesday the state surplus ballooned to $17.6 billion.

Now in complete control of state government and with a large budget surplus, local DFL’ers said they’re ready to put that money to use.

“One of the top priorities that I have, is to increase local government aid and to provide property tax relief for working Minnesotans and for people who are living on fixed incomes,” said Senator Jen McEwen who represents Duluth.

Other issues like education, healthcare, affordable housing and childcare are also big DFL concerns.

“We have big priorities that we want to be working on and look forward to going down to St. Paul and using some of the surplus as well as money as we set our next biennial budget to make these things a reality,” said Representative Liz Olson of Duluth.

Across the political aisle, republicans said they want to focus the budget surplus on tax relief.

“We’re talking $17.6 billion, historic on all levels,” said Representative Spencer Igo of Grand Rapids. “I think what it really means, to me as a legislator, but also the communities that I represent, Minnesotans are being overtaxed.”

In the 2023 session, which begins on January 3rd, the DFL will have a 70 to 64 seat advantage in the House and a 34 to 33 edge in the Senate, with Democratic Governor Tim Walz remaining in office, leading to a DFL trifecta.

Igo hopes the session will be a display of bipartisanship.

“I really hope, with a budget surplus like this that the governor, the Minnesota Senate, the Minnesota House, can work together bipartisan to spend it and use it appropriately,” Igo said.

That message of working together was echoed by the DFL.

“I really think that my colleagues, I have this real sense of energy from people that, they’re ready to get to work,” McEwen said.

In Tuesday’s budget forecast, officials said the large surplus is caused by strong tax collections, lower-than-projected spending and a leftover surplus from the last session.