The report that Minnesota finished the latest budget year, ending June 30, with $463 million more than had been forecast, put a lot of state government leaders in danger of dislocating their shoulders from patting themselves on the back.
Governor Mark Dayton was happy that the money could be used to speed up the payback of the money the state owes to school districts. He credited the recovering economy for the increased.
Legislative Democrats congratulated themselves for the money flowing back to schools, too. They made it a part of their budget to accelerate the payback to school districts.
It is good that the state budget finished in the black for once, and that school districts will be getting quicker payment on the money the state owes them, but before we all start singing "Happy Days Are Here Again," let's wait until a few more budget surpluses come around. The Minnesota Management and Budget Office did credit stronger-than-expected economic growth, but also said some of the excess is due to wealthy taxpayers shifting their income from future years into 2012 to avoid aniticipated tax hikes and capital gains taxes. That shift will be a one-time phenomenon.
It will take long-term stability in the state's taxing and spending to foster the kind of economic growth that will make budget deficits a thing of the past.