Surplus more likely than deficit

Surplus more likely than deficit

To the Editor:

Minnesota Management and Budget officials recently released the November state budget forecast, showing a projected $188 million deficit due to lower-than-expected revenues based on assumptions about federal legislation and U.S. GDP and wage growth.

The forecast also reflected $178 million in state spending on the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), nearly all of which would be backfilled once CHIP is renewed at the federal level.

Despite the uncertain forecast, Republican leaders touted Minnesota’s strong economy, and anticipated stronger revenue estimates when the forecast is updated in February.

Our economy really is in great shape and the numbers are trending in the right direction. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest point in 17 years and wages are on the rise. Both of these are very positive indicators, and I believe when February rolls around we will actually see a budget surplus.

Assumptions about federal legislation and U.S. GDP and wage growth contributed to lower-than-expected revenue assumptions. The forecast assumes that no tax bill will be passed at the federal level despite passage in both the House and Senate last week, and assumes 2.2 percent GDP growth in 2017 despite 3.1 percent growth in the second quarter and 3.3 percent growth in the third quarter.

State Rep. Bob Gunther,