Viewpoint: Not out of the woods yetTwo years ago, when I was sworn into office, the state budget forecast had a deficit projection of $6.2 billion.
By: Rep. Andrea Kieffer, Woodbury Bulletin
Two years ago, when I was sworn into office, the state budget forecast had a deficit projection of $6.2 billion. Today, we see a projected surplus of roughly $2.5 billion - due to a recovering economy and government reforms. Unfortunately, the fiscal year 2014-15 budget still shows a projected $1.1 billion deficit due to projected spending increases. If the federal government can find common ground, our deficit projection could decrease.
By law, surpluses must pay back school shifts. From the last three years of shifts, $1.6 billion has been paid back: fully paying off the amount that the Legislature borrowed in 2011 and over half of the amount from the previous Legislature. In other words, the state education shift is at approximately 80-20. Although not an ideal way to budget, past Legislatures have used the shift as a way to “make ends meet” without overburdening the taxpayers.
More good news: the budget reserves have been replenished adding $900 million bringing it to the $1 billion statutorily prescribed balance. However, we should be very cautious in proceeding with our next budget. Our economy is still fragile, and even though our unemployment rate is 2 percent lower than the national average, there are still people worried about their jobs. I will continue to advocate for fiscal responsibility and economic growth in our state.
For the next session, I will serve on three committees: Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy; Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries; and Public Safety Finance and Policy. Please feel free to contact me at the State House 651-296-1147. I will continue to send out bi-monthly legislative updates via email email@example.com.
Have a blessed holiday season.
Kieffer, a Republican, represents House District 53B in the Legislature