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Minnesota's Projected Budget Surplus Just Got Bigger

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota budget officials say the state's projected surplus is $1.513 billion -- $181 million larger than a November estimate.

On Thursday, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released the 2020 February Budget and Economic Forecast, saying the state's budget and economic outlook remain stable.

Despite the update, the numbers could still change if the coronavirus negatively impacts the Minnesota economy.

According to MMB, a small increase to the general fund revenue forecast, as well as a similar-sized reduction in spending estimates, resulted in the projected surplus of $1.513 billion for the fiscal year 2020-2021 biennium.

"As in November, the economic outlook is stable but a slowdown remains in the forecast. The small budgetary improvement continues into the next biennium and the structural balance is improved, but budget challenges remain," MMB said in a statement.

Gov. Tim Walz released a statement following the budget and economic outlook, saying it's good news for Minnesota's economy.

"We must build upon the smart decisions that got us to this strong position," he said. "Last session, we invested in our children's education. We protected Minnesotans' access to affordable health care. And for the first time in 20 years, we gave 1.36 million middle class Minnesotans a tax rate cut. We have been disciplined, kept our eye on the long-term, and invested in the things that make our state grow."

House Democrats want to spend half a billion dollars of the surplus on more affordable daycare spots and $25,000 one-time scholarships for a year of pre-kindergarten.

House Republicans say the budget surplus should be used as tax relief for taxpayers. They're also calling for the elimination of the "unfair tax" on Social Security.

The argument over what to do with the surplus is expected to dominate the legislative session.

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