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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL)

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Minnesota faces budget shortfall

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

I hope that everyone stayed safe on the roads yesterday. Thank you to all city, state and county workers that were out very early yesterday morning to make sure the roads we all traveled were as safe as the weather allowed.

This will likely be my last update for 2017, I hope it finds you and yours happy and healthy. The next legislative session starts on February 20, 2018 and I am already beginning to schedule my community conversations. Look for an e-mail in early January with all of the dates, times and locations. So, get ready to start your new year off right by joining your friends and neighbors in some quality civic engagement.

February Forecast

Yesterday, the office of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) announced as part of the November Economic Forecast that the state is facing a $188 million budget deficit going into the next legislative session. You can find documents related to the forecast, including MMB’s presentation, here.

Going into the 2017 session, Minnesota had a $1.6 billion budget surplus with which we could have made greater investments in the things we value like education, health care, or transportation infrastructure. Instead, due in part to the Republican majority’s large tax cuts for corporations like big tobacco and the wealthy, we now find ourselves in a budget shortfall. This is irresponsible budgeting, and Minnesotans deserve better.

Our state budget situation is also compounded by uncertainty at the federal level. You likely have heard about the debate in the U.S. Congress over proposed changes to the federal tax code, many of which also disproportionately benefit the wealthiest among us. As this situation remains in flux, so too will our economic outlook which affects projections for our state budget.

Other federal inaction is harming us as well. In one of my updates over two months ago, I discussed the failure of Congress to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Remarkably, they have yet to do so. If this responsibility isn’t taken care of by the federal government, it will cost the state $178 million to fill the gap. To be clear: we’re talking about health care for children in low-income families which don’t qualify for Medicaid. Their care shouldn’t be put in this limbo, and they have been waiting too long for Congress to act.

We will have a better understanding of the current budget situation when the next forecast is released in February, and the 2018 session gets underway on February 20. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that we keep Minnesota on strong fiscal footing.

As always, please feel free to contact me with your priorities, ideas and feedback as we move forward.

Enjoy the snow!