Economic forecast is good but there still is work to do

Minnesota received some good news last week.

A new economic forecast from the Office of Minnesota Management and Budget reduced our projected budget deficit from $1.1 billion to $627 million over the next two years. We also learned our state is able to pay back an additional $290 million for the K-12 school shifts, bringing the remaining balance down to just over $800 million.

Last week’s economic forecast means Minnesota’s economy is moving in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done.

Over the past ten years, we’ve experienced perpetual budget deficits which lead to instability for funding everything from Local Government Aid to for K-12 and higher education. In order to get our fiscal house in order, we need to put an end to the short-sighted, short-term fixes filled with shifts and gimmicks and replace them with long-term, progressive strategies and outcomes to move our state forward in a new direction.

Minnesota has always been a great place to live, work and raise a family because we believe in the value we get from investing in priorities like education and quality services. In fact, Minnesota was recently ranked third of all 50 states where residents report their sense of overall well-being based on physical health, outlook on life, job satisfaction and other factors that affect quality of life.

However, when we slip from the top 10 to 22nd in K-12 funding and allow tuition at our public colleges and universities to more than double in just more than 10 years, we risk falling behind and losing our competitive edge in an increasingly global economy.

By increasing investments in our children’s education, stabilizing tuition rates and passing an honest, fair budget that doesn’t rely on gimmicks or ask middle class families or college students to shoulder the burden of our fiscal challenges, we can set Minnesota up to grow and thrive for years to come.

Right now, we’re on track to get the job done.

DFL majorities are also on track to move our state forward by expanding Minnesotans’ access to affordable health care.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states face a March 31 deadline to approve state-based health insurance exchanges. For states that do not meet that deadline, the federal government will step in and implement an exchange run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Thankfully, the DFL House Majority took the first step on Monday night by passing HF 5, which establishes a Minnesota-based exchange that will account for our state’s unique needs and existing health care delivery systems. When fully implemented, the exchange will cover over 300,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans, reduce costs for families by an average of roughly $500 per year, and provide tax credits to help qualifying individuals, families and businesses purchase health care.

The full Minnesota Senate will take up their own health exchange bill on Thursday. Before final legislation heads to Governor Dayton’s desk, each chamber must reconcile any differences between their respective legislation.

 

If you have questions or comments about Minnesota’s updated economic forecast or our work to implement the Affordable Care Act, please contact me by phone at 651-296-4193, by email at rep.jeanne.poppe@house.mn, or by postal mail at 487 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

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