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February Economic Forecast – 2015

\The Office of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released their February Economic Forecast today. For the current biennium, there is a $477.6 million projected balance. The projected surplus for Fiscal Years 2016-17 is $1.392 billion. Combined with what is left from Fiscal Years 2014-15, there is $1.869 billion available in the upcoming biennium.

According to MMB documents released today, the surplus is in large part due to the fact that cheaper oil reduces capital expenditures in oil-related industries and allows consumers to deliver spending toward non-gasoline purchases.

If you remember one thing: Today’s news proves that hardworking Minnesotans are over-taxed. At a time when Minnesota families are seeing some relief at the pump with lower gas prices, we should shouldn’t be making it more expensive for Minnesotans to drop their kids off at school and get to work. Imposing a new gas tax on Minnesotans would be a heavy and unnecessary strain on family budgets.

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Also yesterday, Senate File 174 was signed into law. Chief authored by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) in the House (HF 264), this bill reins in the pay raises the governor issued to his agency executives by:
Restoring legislative oversight of executive branch pay raises (Rep. Roz Peterson’s bill as introduced)
Immediately freezing the salary increases (Senate language approved by Senate DFL & GOP)
Cutting the allocations made to state departments based on the commissioner salary increase (Rep. Steve Drazkowski’s amendment from committee)
IMPORTANT: The DFL-controlled legislature enabled Governor Dayton to give double-digit pay raises to his commissioners because of changes made in 2013 eliminating legislative approval of commissioner salaries (see 2013 House Journal Page 6506 for the vote).

If you remember one thing: At a time when take-home pay for Minnesota families remains flat, it’s outrageous that the Governor, enabled by House and Senate Democrats, would approve enormous salary increases for his agency executives. The new House Republican Majority worked on behalf of all Minnesotans to bring back public oversight of commissioner salaries, freeze the salary increases and make departments live within their means.

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