Surplus will fuel legislative debate

With a projected surplus of $1.3 billion glimmering at the end of the current state budget, legislators are sure to be talking this session about what to do with it. Do we want tax relief? More money for roads and bridges? More money for unmet health care needs? Raises for health care providers? More for k-12 education? More for higher education? Water quality? We’re sure there will be supporters for all that and more.

Before the state heads out on a spending spree, we should remember this is a forecast, made a year-and-a-half before the end of the current budget. These are numbers on paper, not money in the bank, and they don’t take inflation into account. The forecast is based on a lot of economic factors that could change dramatically.

We in New Ulm, of course, would like to see a large portion set aside to get the Highway 14 expansion project from New Ulm to Nicollet off the drawing board. We’d also like to see the state raise the pay standards for nursing home and personal care workers who have been underpaid for a long, long time.

Of course, tax relief is always welcome, but there are many ways to deliver it. Do we lower income tax rates, and for whom? Do we lower property taxes, and again, whom do we target? Farmers? Business owners? Senior citizens?

There will be plenty for legislators to argue about when they gather in St. Paul on Feb. 11.


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