ST. PAUL, MN – Today, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released the latest State Budget and Economic Forecast. The forecast projects a $1.5 billion state budget surplus. The state’s Budget Reserve account now tops $2.075 billion – its highest level in state history.
Governor Mark Dayton held a news conference today at the Minnesota State Capitol following the release of the budget forecast. The following are Governor Dayton’s remarks, as prepared for delivery.
Today's State Budget Forecast for the next two biennia contains more great news for the people of our state. The healthy forecasted surpluses for the next five years should provide the basis for responsible fiscal policies and reliable funding of the services upon which Minnesotans depend. They show a remarkable recovery from the financial shambles in which I took office eight years ago.
The November 2010 Forecast projected a state budget deficit of $6.2 billion for the next two fiscal years. To make matters worse, the State owed our school districts $1.8 billion of delayed payments, which had been unilaterally imposed to mask previous deficits.
There was virtually no Budgeted Reserve and only a minimal cash flow account.
Today, in addition to these healthy forecasted surpluses, we will have over $2 billion in hard cash deposited in our Reserve Fund. We have paid off entirely our school debt and increased their state funding by $2 billion. We have restored our state's credit rating to AAA with two of our three rating agencies.
This state is in tremendous fiscal shape.
The principal reason for this extraordinary budget turnaround is that Minnesota employers have added over 318,400 jobs during the past eight years. In October, our state reported over 2.978 million jobs, the most in history. Our statewide unemployment rate has dropped from 6.9 percent, when I became governor, to 2.8 percent today.
Those drops in unemployment have occurred statewide. Alexandria's unemployment rate dropped from 11.7 percent in January 2011 to 2.2 percent in October 2018. Bemidji's fell from 15.3 percent to 2.6 percent. Brainerd's from 19.1 percent to 3.2 percent. Faribault's from 11.3 percent to 2.4 percent. Fairmont's from 7.9 percent to 2.8 percent. And Grand Rapids from 17.2 percent to 3.8 percent.
At last count there were over 16,000 job vacancies in Minnesota, an unprecedented number. And our state's median household income is 14 percent above the national average.
There are still too many people in our state, who have not achieved this prosperity. A disproportionate number of our farmers, minorities, and recent immigrants are suffering economically. But, overall, our state's economic condition has dramatically improved.
I realize that this success is a great disappointment to a few ideologues, who were certain that our administration's policies would cause the state's ruination.
They were wrong. Instead, those policies helped us balance the state's budget, pay off the school debt, and make important new investments, such as all-day kindergarten.
However, as I have always said, the credit for our strong and sustained economic recovery belongs to the people of Minnesota.
To the business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs, who had the confidence in Minnesota to create most of those over 300,000 jobs here.
To our state's tremendous workers, whose work ethic and productivity turned those new investments into profitable ventures.
And to the people, who educated them, fed them, and supported their successes.
In 2010, I said my goal was 'A Better Minnesota.' Thanks to the people of Minnesota, we have achieved it.