ST. PAUL - Area legislators offered different views about Thursday's improved state budget forecast.
The forecast by the Minnesota Management and Budget Department showed a $295 million surplus up to June. That surplus will be statutorily put towards the state's school funding shift.
The forecast from July through 2015 reduced the projected deficit down from $1.1 billion to $627 million.
Republican legislators Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Rural Hanska) and Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) said the forecast was good news. However, they urged caution with proceeding forward, objecting to any proposals to increase spend or taxes.
Torkelson was more pleased with the long-term improved forecast than with the recent year improvement, which he expected. He said despite the signals of long-term improvement, he believes there should be seriously limited action taken in order to brace for the potential impact of federal sequestration funding cuts.
Dahms attributed the improved forecast to Republicans' work when in the majority of the Legislature in the last biennium. He said the policies that allowed freedom of the market and for economic process to work themselves out improved the state's financial situation.
Rep. Clark Johnson (DFL-North Mankato) said the forecast was good news and positioned the Legislature in a better situation to build a comprehensive budget that would prevent future deficits. He said the improved forecast may also improve the chances of various potential state investments, such as the pending legislation on the Highway 14 four-lane expansion project.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)