It Pays to be Optimistic. Don't worry. I remember the snickers from the audience at the September meeting when I said I was optimistic about the state's fiscal picture (Me optimistic? I think Deb Henton actually mentioned it in the meeting minutes. That's how rare optimism comes from me.), but lo and behold, I was right! There is that anecdote about the blind squirrel finding the acorn that is somehow appropriate here, but there's no question that for whatever reason, Minnesota's financial picture is pretty rosy as we head into 2014.
The November forecast (why is it called the November forecast when it's delivered in December?) came out today and it shows an approximately $1.08 billion surplus for the remainder of this biennium. That means that after the school property tax shift is paid back and the $15 million owed to the state airports fund, there will be $800 million left on the bottom line.
It needs to be pointed out that approximately $250 million of the budget forecast "surplus" (how many times have I been reminded that it's not a true surplus, but an increase in forecasted--not actual--revenue) comes from lower than expected expenditures.
The Governor has stated that he wants an "unsession," but I think it would be hard for a legislature of any partisan stripe to walk away from an $800 million opportunity to cut some of the taxes enacted last session and/or spend on new or existing programs. Where there is money, there is action and I expect there will be a tug-and-pull starting February 25 (the first day of the 2014 Legislative Session) over this little windfall.
What is even more heartening than the short-term uptick is the rosier picture for the 2016-2017 biennium, which shows projected revenue to be up approximately $1.5 billion.
Here is the link to the documents related to the budget forecast. The most valuable document is the complete forecast, which is the third item down: