State DFL, Republican leaders make plans for budget surplus

The Minnesota Capitol
The Minnesota Capitol on Nov. 13
Andrew Krueger | MPR News file

You're going to hear a lot in the next few months about the piles of cash that the state of Minnesota is sitting on and could continue adding to.

On Tuesday, state officials reported a projected $7.7 billion budget surplus. The historic amount was a surprise even to those familiar with state finances, and it now sets off a debate over what to do with all that money. 

Host Cathy Wurzer spoke to two lawmakers who will be in the thick of that debate: DFL Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and Republican Sen. Julie Rosen, chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Winkler told Wurzer that the surplus is proof that recent Democratic policies have worked. Now, Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Democrats seek to use the surplus to fund a broad range of policies addressing issues like paid family and medical leave, caregiver support, the cost of health care and child care, climate change and gun violence.

Rosen said Republicans want to take advantage of the surplus to make tax cuts to provide financial relief to Minnesotans, whom she credits with creating the surplus.

According to Rosen, Republicans have not yet had detailed conversations about their plan for the surplus dollars. She said they are willing to wait until the state’s February economic forecast is released — in order to obtain more information on the state’s finances and developments in the pandemic — before making decisions regarding the surplus.

To compromise with Republicans, DFLers are willing to look at targeted, one-time tax deductions, Winkler said — but DFLers will not consider ongoing reductions in the tax code.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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