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Walz proposes using part of $17.6 billion surplus for rebate checks

The state budget office said “strong collections and lower-than-projected spending” are contributing to the surplus in the current two-year budget period.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota's budget surplus has swelled again, according to new numbers from the Minnesota Management and Budget Office.

According to the MMBO, Minnesota lawmakers will head into the 2023 legislative session with a massive $17.6 billion projected budget surplus.

The agency said that “strong collections and lower-than-projected spending” are contributing to the surplus in the current two-year budget period, which runs through June.

The agency also said it expects that economic headwinds and lower expected growth for the next two-year budget period, which begins in July, will be balanced by a large leftover surplus and healthy net revenues.

The agency's previous forecast, based on older economic projections, was for a record $12.1 billion surplus, including about $7 billion that the 2022 Legislature was unable to agree on how to spend.

At a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Walz said he plans to again ask the legislature to send Minnesotans "Walz checks" of $1,000 per adult. In his re-election campaign, Walz heavily promoted the plan to distribute bonus checks to refund a portion of the surplus to taxpayers.

“The case for sending money back to Minnesotans to help with rising costs has never been stronger. Together, we have a golden opportunity to do that while also investing in our workforce, our schools, and our kids – all while lowering costs for our middle-class families, small businesses, and seniors," Walz said in a statement.

In a release from the Minnesota GOP, Chair David Hann said "this latest budget news makes perfectly clear that Democrat tax hikes should be off the table."

"Study after study and surplus after surplus shows that Minnesotans are overtaxed. As the Democrats’ tax-and-spend policies continue to drive up inflation, and Minnesotans struggle to make ends meet, I applaud our State House and Senate Republican lawmakers for continuing to call for real, meaningful tax relief that will put more money in the pockets of Minnesota’s families and businesses," he added.

Control of the Legislature was split between the Senate Republican and House Democratic majorities for the last four years. But Democrats flipped the Senate in the November election and will take full control of state government for the first time in eight years when the 2023 Legislature convenes on Jan. 3.

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