By Rep. Ron Kresha, Guest Columnist
Minnesota’s economy is on the mend. Our unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, far below the national average. In 2012, Minnesota created more than 50,000 new jobs and saw 60,000 new business filings. Our state’s budget situation has also improved dramatically over the past two years.
The results speak for themselves; just two years ago in 2011, the budget deficit for the 2012-2013 biennium was $5 billion. The surplus for 2012-2013 now stands at $2.8 billion. Thanks to fiscal restraint and limiting the growth of government to a reasonable rate of 1 percent, the state was able to pay back the entirety of the school shift passed in 2011, refill state budget reserves and foster dramatic revenue growth without raising taxes.
What was once a $4.4 billion deficit for the 2014-2015 biennium is now a fraction of that – $627 million. Perhaps most encouraging is that the state is projected to have a surplus of well over $700 million for the 2016-2017 biennium.
The successes our economy has enjoyed over the past two years were not the doing of the governor, the Legislature, or any other politician, Democrat or Republican. Minnesota was able to generate billions of dollars in additional tax revenue by putting people back to work and growing the private sector.
It’s no coincidence that tax revenues have gone up as unemployment has fallen. With each new job created, Minnesota gains another taxpayer who pays income tax and thus will have income to buy goods that generate sales tax revenue, among others.
We should be pursuing policies that will help continue to build upon the prosperity we’ve enjoyed over the past two years. We should be taking steps to improve the competitiveness of our state’s job climate and attract businesses and jobs to Minnesota, rather than driving them away.
When we grow jobs in Minnesota, we improve our state’s economy, put more people back to work, and strengthen the middle class. Growing our economy will continue to generate additional tax revenue we can use to make investments in education and other areas.
The welcomed improvements we’ve seen provide us a useful road map on how to continue to improve our state’s economy and create a better Minnesota for all of us. We have a road map that works – now it’s up to the Governor and the Legislature whether they decide to follow it.
Rep. Ron Kresha of Little Falls represents District 9B in the state House of Representatives.