ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota budget officials are estimating a surprise $876 million surplus for the rest of the state’s two-year budget, easing fears of another bruising political fight just months after partisan deadlock over how to close the last budget deficit led to a partial shutdown of state government.

Predictions at the Capitol had been pessimistic, with red-ink estimates ranging from $500 million to $1 billion. But budget officials said revenues came in $358 million higher than expected and spending was $205 million below earlier estimates.

The forecast wasn’t all sunny. It projected a deficit of $1.3 billion for fiscal years 2014-15. The forecast said most of the reduced spending was in Health and Human Services.

“There’s still 192,000 Minnesotans unemployed, so this is no time to be celebrating,” said Gov. Mark Dayton.

Dayton said the rare surplus is ‘terrific,’ but comes at the expense of schools, from whom the state borrowed money and property tax payers, who now pay more. He blames that on Republicans.

“Republican legislators’ devotion to protecting millionaires from their fair share of taxes comes at the expense of everyone else,” said Dayton.

The GOP majority said the Republicans’ focus on fiscal restraint has turned out to be the best strategy.

“What that demonstrates to us as a legislature is that living within your means works, but most importantly you have to keep at it,” said GOP Majority Leader Amy Koch.

The forecast will be updated again in February, when it will be used to guide budget talks.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (94)
  1. hmmm says:

    The fix(delay, accounting trick…whatever you want to call it) they used last time cannot be used again. Will be interesting next time the fight rolls around. Hopefully they leave the schools out of it.

    1. J Ventura says:

      HELLOOOOOO Rebate Checks!

      1. Tom says:

        @ J Ventura

        I remember when he did that. You know the funny thing about that not many politcians backs then approved of that, but yet on the other hand they are the ones who claims that the citizens know how to spend money better than they do.

      2. what!?! says:

        Rebate checks.. ha – we’re not going to see a dime of that money– Zippy and the vikings will though…. NO NEW STADIUM FOR ZIPPY N CREW!!!!!

        1. Swamp Rat says:

          Rebates checks? Are you kidding? Somebody just cooked the books to show a surplus. Just let the surplus grow and hold the course, reform the tax system, and pay some bills, When next year comes around and the surplus has really grown then talk about spending it. Let’s avoid hasty spending and rebates schemes. Let’s get cash in hand before we spend it. The present “forecast” could be wrong with the present GOP/T-Baggers in the Legislature. Again, cash in the bank speaks louder than political BS!!!

          As for the stadium issue build it and get Zygi on the tax rolls doing his fair share. Besides, After spending $19 million for a Park Avenue [NYC] pad with $96,000 per month mortgage payments plus real estate taxes, Zygi can surely afford paying Minnesota taxes on the Vikings and related real estate taxes to the state coffers. It’s time to make some money and bank it.

  2. J M Keynes says:

    This would be an appropriate time to adjust public employee salary and benefit packages to put them back in line with the private sector. We’ll see how powerful the unions are at stopping this common-sense need.

    1. G Dog says:

      @ JM Keynes

      Why don’t you grow a pair and let your boss know that you expect to be treated with respect and deserve a decent benefit package. Don’t demand others be lowered to your level, rise to theirs.

      1. Tom says:

        @ G Dog

        Conservatives who are agaiinest unions are used to bending over for their boss. In their minds the boss comes first and they come second.

    2. Reality says:

      Great! As a public employ, that means an 8% raise for me and my family. Taking all wages and benefits into account, a state employee make 8% LESS than a private sector employee with the same skills and education.

      1. D A Thies says:

        Oh yeah and I almost forgot state employees haven’t seen a raise in 3 years and the benefit costs have increased as well. Not looking for sympathy, just putting it out there so people can see the truth…

        1. Mark Too says:

          Most people that I know that work in the private sector haven’t seen a raise in the past three years either. In fact, many of them have taken pay cuts and/or have seen their benefits reduced. (I also know many business owners who’ve cut their take home pay to keep their staff employed.)

          Not looking for sympathy either, just putting it out there so people can see the truth…

          1. jimmy says:

            Your CEO thanks you he got a 26% raise. .

            1. Mark Too says:

              Nope, not even close, the owner of the company I work for cut his take home pay (and that of management) so that he didn’t have to layoff any of his employees.

              1. jimmy says:

                Showed you his check did he, yea right

                1. Mark Too says:

                  It must be tough to work for someone you cannot trust. I feel sorry for you.

        2. Give me Liberty says:

          Hey public employee whiners, grow a pair and find a different job if you think you are paid less. Doubt you’ll find as sweet a deal as you have in the private sector.

          And legislators, plan for the future and don’t spend any excess on your pet projects.

          It’s time for everyone to get responsible.

        3. djp says:

          Join the club in the private sector!!

        4. Big Deal says:

          Go work for the private sector, or quit whinning.

      2. Guy says:

        Then QUIT & JOIN the private sector if it’s that much better…

    3. Benard says:


      According to the last position study under TPaw, I am paid 20% less than my private section counterparts!

      1. bobby says:

        @Benard- And how does your state funded defined benefit pension look? I know a lot of us folks in the private sector actually have to save for 100% of our retirement. I don’t feel bad if you take home a litle bit less.

      2. KaDee says:

        What is your position? I am in customer service in the private sector, making $14.00 an hour, at a call center. I have no holidays off (we’re a 24/7 call center – it would be a real travesty if you couldn’t find out the amount of your credit card bill on Christmas, now wouldn’t it?). My health insurance costs me $350 a month, with a $5000 deductible A friend has a position titled “customer service” for the state (she works at a snack shop at a state facility) and makes $20 an hour, plus has her health insurance completely paid for, and has a deductible of $500 with an out-of-pocket max of $1100.

        So, how exactly is the private sector “better” than being a state employee??

        1. idiotsbrewing everywhere says:

          Perhaps if you would have actually completed a higher level degree, you wouldn’t be stuck in a $14/hr job complaining on WCCO.

    4. The Truth says:

      Yeah, because attacking public employees will fix everything.

      1. Riddle Me This says:

        And making them sacred cows that are not accountable for performance or compensation level fixes what?

    5. frozenrunner says:

      @ JM In my chosen profession in health care I would make about $10000 a year less working for the state. Can you provide some example to back you claim

  3. MR says:

    Are you ready . . . here they come . . . posts will say the surplus is the result of the Republicans . . . others will say it’s the result of the Democrats . . . Others will want more spending (See the above post) . . . Yet others will say we need more cuts . . . And very few of them will say something that hasn’t been post multiple times before for other articles. Aren’t politics fun!

    1. Coon Rapids says:

      they all suck!!!!

    2. jackactionhero says:

      The extra money is from the taxes we pay in Minnesota. Anybody notice any of the increases in taxes over the last year, or did they slip them right past you and now present it as the money the state has and you cheer? LOL

  4. Tom says:

    @ J M Keynes

    The Unions are not problem contrary to what conservatives seem to think.

    1. teddy says:

      No but the liberals are!

      1. Davy T says:

        Funny teddy. Keep drinking the kool-aid.

        1. teddy says:

          Oh Davy T… what would you like to see, more social services for the welfare leeches?

          1. SO SAD says:

            No, but I would like state employees to do their job. Why are these people on welfare for as long as they have been? There is no reason why any individual should be on welfare for more than a year. It was meant to assist people in the time of need; not for life! So get working for what you were hired to do…..

      2. Tom says:

        @ teddy

        No Conservatives are the problem! Liberals deal with issues in reality and conservatives deal with issue in pure fantasy!

    2. Cassie says:

      Hey, I’m a liberal and yes, the unions ARE a problem!

      1. overpaid sniper says:

        hahahaha too bad for you Cassie!!

  5. D A Thies says:

    If a Big Mac goes up in price should we scream for McDonalds to cut positions & salaries? How about when Walmart increases the prices, is it time to picket their front doors and call their employees a bunch of free loaders? Why is it that people seem to think that state employees are running through meadows of cash where it’s raining benefits all over them? The “occupy” movement isn’t focused on government employees, it’s focused on the private sector and the big salaries execs are making on the backs of their employees and the takpayers who bailed them out…I worked in the private sector for many years and the deals were much sweeter there. Sometimes too sweet. I work for the state now and I make much less then my same job in the private sector. I do it because I enjoy doing what I do.

  6. Redneck Purist says:

    Did everyone miss the first sentence? They’re “projecting” a surplus. Liberals are great at projecting. They invented it. But we all know that figures lie, and liars figure. And the check is in the mail, right? Suckers. I’ll bet anyone as much as they can afford to lose, that this budget cycle will end in a deficit. Any takers?…………………………… Thought so.

  7. what!?! says:

    isnt that thee amount zippy needs for his new stadium?

    1. darn says:

      How convenient… Let me guess? Executive decision to give funding comes from the surplus now…

  8. Kevin says:

    This is the saddest thing I have ever read! Yesterday we are 1 billion in the read! Today we are 1 billion in the black! WHO THE HE*L IS IN CHARGE HERE???

    1. spacecasemn says:

      I AGREE!! a 2 billion dollar turnaround over night, Who the heck is in charge of the state accounting business the EU?

      1. ooompa says:

        Must be someone, entity, politician, big business or whatever that needs something that requires a surplus. The agency doing the reporting is probably getting a nice kickback from whoever that is.

        1. Kevin says:

          Oh but dont worry! The Govt will split the $800 million up and send back to the tax payers. I am sure they wont find more EdUcAtIoN or Govt union…or social program to waste it on…..I trust my Govt!!!!!!

          1. Kevin2 says:

            Yes the money spent on Education is well proven to be wasted on you

  9. yes says:

    Pay back the schools now thief politicians.

    1. Bill Clintons Cigar says:

      Moron! Pay me back now! Scr*w the schools!!!!

  10. jack says:

    your link says bad news

  11. smoke and mirrors at their best says:

    GOP, DFL, Tea Party, Independent or KOOL-AID DRINKER, it doesn’t matter, they’ll all be jumping at the chance to spend that money before somebody discovers the accounting error. And yes, what a coincidence that there is just about enough to fill Zygi’s pockets for a few years. And what good timing for this enchanting discovery.

    It’s all dingus joice … there isn’t a single cent for a surplus; the state is still broke.

  12. MrBB says:

    Give the vikings 500 million, lets build the stadium

    1. ooompa says:

      Do not give the vikings 500 million, lets not build the stadium

    2. Cassie says:

      It’s better to help build the stadium than let the Vikings leave MN. Just think of the economic hardships our state will face with all that lost revenue the games normally generate.

      1. Tito J says:

        Is this sarcasm? I can’t tell.

  13. Taxpayer says:

    A-holes will probably vote themselves a raise again.

  14. Ordinary Guy says:

    You guys just fight each other from here on out. Just ignore that your personal spending is all going to the Orient and not coming back. At least the state spends it here.

    What would be a good thing, is to put a quarter-percent tax on all securities trades, instead of just taxing the profit. That would gradually built to revenue until it discouraged day-trading and automated trading that makes such a dangerous place for ordinary retirement savings to be.

    1. Crown King Zygi says:

      King Zygi spent his in New York.

  15. Mayhem says:

    Zygi buys a $19 million “apartment.”

    MN finds $876 in the proverbial couch cushions.

    Wheres the conspiracy theorists?!?!?!

    Get Jesse on the line to investigate this!

    Heres to looking forward to 2016…and the Brand New MN Vikings Sports Complex!!!!

    Whoot Whoot!!!!

    Git ‘er done!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Coon Rapids says:

      Build the damn stadium……if we lose the VIKES it will be a very, very longtime before the NFL will allot MN another team and GUESS WHAT PEOPLE WE WILL HAVE TO BUILD A FREAKING STADIUM!! Does anyone remember the North Stars????? Let’s not let that happen again. The Twins got a new stadium, The Gophers..The T’Wolves and the WIld and none of these teams have really gotten the big ring recently. So why ishould the Vieks be held to a higher standard.. BUILD THE STADIUM PEOPLE!!!!

      1. me too, me too says:

        My Pee Wee T-Ball team needs a new field too. And we would like a working toidy on the pitcher’s mound because the old man who stands there needs a lot of breaks.

        Where do we sign up for our billion dollar stadium? MN just gives ’em to everybody, don’t they?

        1. Mayhem says:

          Thats, in part, what the Twins Community fund is for. You have to apply for that…they dont just show up at your door holding a silver platter containing your check.

          Although I dont think a biliion dollars will be required to fix your T-ball field so you might wanna start a little lower when you ask.

  16. Robert E says:

    If it indeed a surplus lets hold on to it. we have other things and people that need the money more than the Vikings. Our food shelves are low. Energy prices are gonna affect the elderly, we have children going to bed without a bed or dinner and we worry about a bunch of children who play a game and whine because they can’t win without a new stadium. They need to leave or live withn their means like everyone else.

    1. Skol says:

      Food shelves depend on charitable donations, not government. Low-income energy assistance is a Federal program. There is assistance for families in need of shelter and food. So, yep. SKOL VIKES! Discussion is back on the table.

      1. skull vikqueens says:

        So write a check. I hate football. No can do on a new stadium.

        1. Skol says:

          Sorry for you. But we will get one. Don’t whine about it. Where do you think the majority of that surplus comes from? Tobacco bonds? A vice for a vice. How poetic!

          1. Paul Bunyan says:

            I found out about this story on Pro Football After reading the viewers comments from all over the nation on that site,everyone thinks our legislators look like idiots!! Let’s get the stadium BUILT!!!!!

            1. Frankie says:

              Everyone that is on a sports website, duh

  17. Coon Rapids says:

    Goes to show you now matter what the people that are in office are liars, they only have their own interests and the public…the people that put them in office are not important they just do what they want no matter what we say..The parties are getting too big and think they are all powerful with their committees that accomplish nothing, make excuses and finger point.. I don’t know about you but if I fail at my job requirements I would be FIRED.. Maybe it is time to start firing these carreer poiticians.

  18. Just sayin says:

    Ever hear of medical rationing. It occurs all the time, last year this year and forever. It always will happen, unless there are unlimited fiunds to cover medical expenses. I always thought it was a political question. It’s not political, it’s a fact of life.

  19. Wake Up says:

    There is no surplus – it’s really amazing how gullible people are. That is only put out there to keep your mind on something else so they can hide what they are really doing.

    1. Mayhem says:

      Youre right…they’re all planning and scheming behind our backs and such.

      We’re all gonna die!!!!!!!

      We’ll just call you Jesse Ventura….junior

  20. richard says:

    I wonder if the republicans will blame Govenor Dayton for this surplus. They blame for for everything that goes wrong.
    I guess if they blame him for everything that goes wrong they won’t object if I give him the credit for this surplus….Thank You Govennor!

    1. I'm Just Sayin says:

      Richard, I am an independent and I blame the democrat house and senate that passed the last budget over a veto by then governor Pawlenty that created the 5 billion dollar hole. Since the governor can write no laws or spending bills, clearly it is the republicans that wrote the current budget (that is causing all the pain at the local level) that deserver credit for the surplus and for the pain at the local level. Would you disagree?

      1. Frankie says:

        @ I’m just a liar
        Know you facts, the only override from the last Dem legislature was the gas tax. Tell enough lies and dim witted erks like you believe it. What is so hard about telling the truth?

      2. Fed Up says:

        Sayin, Lets not forget that the State’s bills have, once again, been passed on to future budgets. There is no surplus. This reminds me of a local school district who bonded for their administrators and retired teachers insurance. Now the above insurance is being paid through property taxes and not the school’s budget so they can claim a surplus. It still money being taken out of my wallet but the school looks good because they have a “suplus” for one year.

        Can anyone tell me if this is true. Do our MN senators and representatives get a life-time pension no matter how long they are in office.

  21. pretzeldude says:

    They got this surplus on the backs of the employees. Now is the time to make the employees whole with raises and back pay.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I agree! the only ones that have received anything is the construction devision. The State of Minnesota forgot about all the employees in the business level.

      Give employees raises…

  22. Esther says:

    Thank you Minnesota Legislature for holding firm to your beliefs in fiscal responsibility!
    Now let’s make sure we have money set aside for a rainy day.
    I am happy that my taxes did not have to be insanely raised to create this surplus and am happy we didn’t spend more than we should as well!

    1. Mark Too says:

      Exactly . . . I too want to thank the Minnesota Legislature for doing exactly what I wanted them to do when I voted for them.

    2. Fed Up says:

      Have you gotten your property tax bill yet? There is your tax increase. Its just been moved. Its called creative book-keeping.

    3. jim says:

      that is if you call fiscal responsibility taking from the dept of education for the last 6 years and not repaying them back, state owes education dept millions that they have taken away to pay for other stuff in past 6 years, thank pawlenty first for all of these ambigious accounting headaches. may as well pay dept of education back now b4 next fiscal year legislative headache that will probably end up in a tea party forced state shutdown again.

  23. Jim says:

    Sorry ppl, i truly believe it is all accounting lies (smoke & mirrors) to make you all think they are doing their jobs great for the next election. If there is TRULY extra money, then FIRST REPAY all the school systems & districts you have been robbing from the past 6 years to “balance the budget” as you claim to say & second make a stand and get a Vikings stadium solutiion done that every citizen & fan in this state wants & derserves. And after the info about state Legacy fund money not being accounted for, one thing IS for certain with our legiislature, you are not nearly as concerned about the citizens of this state as you are with your own butts, special intrerests, & getting re-elected.

  24. RR says:

    Woo hoo! Plenty of dough for a new stadium!!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Give employees a raise. my husband has worked for 3 -1/2 years as a state worker and has not had a pay increase at all. ( in the business section ) nothing. and he was flayed off during the state shut down so we lost even more. because the state has deficit none of his workers received raises, no Company picnics or even a Christmas party all waived.

    My husband deserves a pay increase that’s 3 1/2 years past due, he makes less then the national average. he works very hard, most company’s give there employees raises even small ones. and they still get the Christmas party’s. some even get bonus checks.
    The State of Minnesota takes its business employee for granted

    1. Jim says:

      If your husband does not like it, ask him to quit and look for another job, see how that goes….My wife has not seen a raise in 4 years, they r down to 1/3 the co. they were 5 years ago, i’d much rather see ppl hired back and give them benefits b4 my wife sees a raise, bonus, or co. party. Start thinking bout all the ppl that have it so much WORSE than you instead of yourself once. Betcha5 bucks ur husband has a union job also that refuses to make concessions in bad times. Start thinking bout the big picture someday instead of just yourself. You also knew for 5 months a state shutdown was possible, maybe try & plan ahead a little.

  26. G Dog says:

    Cut all spending to nursing homes. Grandpa and Grandma can move in with you so you can change their diapers, feed them and wipe up their drool.

    @I’m just saying seems ready to help lower everyone’s taxes.

  27. Keeping it real in Pequot Lakes says:


    ********PAY BACK THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS**********

    1. bpk says:

      I agree. Im a huge Vikes fan and would hate to see them leave, but its hard to ration when there are 31 kids in my daughters 3rd grade class with one teacher. Her art teacher just asked for any supply donations because he was alloted 200$ for an entire year with 350 kids in a K-5 school. I put kids before Zygi on my priority list.

      1. big enough budget says:

        Maybe he could ask Ms. Silva for some of that $26,000.

  28. RFF says:

    Ziggy spent 19 million dollars on a apartment in New York yesterday so what does that tell you?
    Unions ARE GOOD I am a UNION man if it were not for the UNION I would be doing the same job but would have left it years ago cause I would be making peanuts. I first started in my profession there was no union and things were a mess. Lots of hours but not even min. Wage. Union stepped in and at least we got Min .wage and a few benes. Not great but a lot better than with out a union. Say what you want and bash them if you want. Maybe some of you had a problem with a union and did not get “Your” way, some of you seem to be dis- gruntled ex union employees? Working with out a current contract for the past year and have not had a wage increase for the past two years. Have a Great day!!!

  29. Save the middle class says:

    I think if we have to pay for a stadium we should own shares in the Vikings and have a say in our team or sell shares to the public to pay for the stadium. Lets keep the taxpayers out of this.

  30. Greg V says:

    If unions are the problem, then why are the economies that came out of the recession the fastest and have the highest standard of living for ordinary folks all so heavily unionized? Look it up. Ordinary workers in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and even France are all doing better than here, where real wages for working people have been completely stagnant for more than a decade and those of CEOs and owners have increased by almost 30% during the same time. I think owners should be richly rewarded for the risk they take investing but the truth is income inequity is worst today than any time since the 20’s and that was a time when the lack of buying power of most Americans along with unregulated speculation led to the Great Depression, just as it did to our Great Recession. Squabbling with each other is killing our ability to solve such problems. For those of you who claim Europe is in bad shape, you should know that Germany, France and the Nordic countries are not and are not responsible for the problems caused by ultra-conservative and ultra liberal countries like Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy.

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