Most Minnesotans don’t want budget surplus to be spent on government programs

Only 28% of Minnesotans answered that the state government should use the surplus to invest more in government programs like education and welfare.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter discusses the budget forecast at a press conference Tuesday. (Minnesota Governor's Office/YouTube)

Minnesota Management and Budget is projecting a $7.7 billion budget surplus, the largest in state history.

“The Minnesota budget and economic outlook is significantly improved in all years of the budget planning horizon,” according to a Tuesday news release.

“Strong growth in income, consumer spending and corporate profits drove extraordinary revenue growth in [Fiscal Year] 2021, and higher tax receipts to date in [Fiscal Year] 2022 combine with an improved outlook for income, consumer spending and corporate profits to raise the revenue forecast for the current biennium,” the news release adds.

It is unclear exactly how the surplus will be spent, though most Minnesotans believe the state should use the money to pay off debt or put cash back in the wallets of taxpayers.

According to poll data from “Thinking Minnesota,” the official magazine of the Center of the American Experiment, 57% of Minnesotans said that the 2022 state legislature should pay off debt (21%), enact a permanent tax cut (24%), or give citizens a one-time tax rebate (12%).

Only 28% of Minnesotans answered that the state government should use the surplus to invest more in government programs like education and welfare.

“Fifty percent of Democrats in the poll think the surplus should be spent on government programs, while 39% of Republicans and 29% of Independents made permanent tax cuts their top choice,” according to the Center of the American Experiment.

John Hinderaker, president of the organization, released the following statement on the poll results.

“The message for policymakers today on the surplus is clear — no more spending,” he said. “Between the federal COVID money and now this overcollection of taxes, Minnesotans understand it’s time for fiscal restraint at the Capitol in 2022.”

According to the New House Republican Caucus, the February 2021 economic forecast projected a $1.6 billion surplus for the 2022-23 biennium. This new projected surplus is an increase of $6.1 billion.

“The monster of Minnesota government keeps getting bigger and bigger at the expense of hardworking taxpayers,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski. “We need to give all $7.7 billion back to the people immediately. Let’s be clear, the government did not create this surplus, the people did. After two of the most financially challenging years on record, we need to gut taxes for the citizens of Minnesota. No more wasteful spending, no more failing programs. Just give it back.”