Hello from St. Paul,
Earlier this week, the state’s Management and Budget Office (MMB) released its annual November budget forecast. The forecast is a bi-annual event, issued in early December and late February, that provides a look at the state’s financial health and the economic trends that will shape our budget in the future. Generally speaking, we tend to use the end-of-year forecast as a guide or speculative update on the budget. We then rely more heavily on the projection released in late February or early March to give us a clearer picture of the state’s budgetary standing and how it impacts proposed legislation.
Tuesday’s forecast revealed that Minnesota’s economy remains strong. The state continues adding jobs at the same rate annually as the nation, and steady job growth has kept the unemployment rate well below the U.S. rate. Together, high demand for labor and low unemployment, the lowest in 17 years, have supported growth in total Minnesota wage income and wages per worker.
Despite this positive jobs news, the forecast showed that the state is looking at a $188 million budget deficit for the coming year. While any projected deficit is not “positive” news, MMB indicated that the projected deficit is due in part to uncertainty at the federal level. To that end, MMB’s forecast does not assume any changes to the federal tax code even though both the U.S. House and Senate have passed historic tax reform legislation in recent weeks. This legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Trump before the end of the year. Furthermore, the forecast reflects $178 million in state spending on the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Nearly all of this $178 million would be backfilled after CHIP is renewed at the federal level. Once congress reauthorizes the funding, and if nothing else changes, the projected deficit is almost completely washed out.
As you can see, there are factors out of our control at the state level that are impacting this week’s budget news. At the end of the day, our jobs numbers remain strong, the state and national economy remain strong, and historic tax reform is on the horizon. With that said, I am optimistic that the updated budget forecast at the end of February will bring good news.
Plan a Sober Ride this Holiday Season
The holiday season is a time of joy and reflection. Unfortunately, it is also a time of year when the number of drunk drivers on Minnesota roads spike. Please be sure to have a plan in place if you are planning to drink this holiday season. Consider following these steps to ensure you don’t put yourself and others at risk:
- Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab or public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration.
- Speak up – offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.
- Buckle up — the best defense against a drunk driver.
- Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any issue related to state government, please feel free to contact me at either 651-296-8237, or email@example.com.