Union: MN Budget Surplus Should Help Working Families

MN State Capitol dome

A group that represents working Minnesotans is asking the state Legislature not to blow the budget surplus on tax breaks for billionaires and big business.

AFSCME Council 5 has called on lawmakers to focus investment on economic security. The group’s executive director, Eliot Seide, said the surplus is fairly modest, $1.4 billion, but it should go to help the state’s working families.

“Our economy is uncertain with the new Trump administration,” Seide said. “So, what we think needs to happen is that Minnesotans ought to be able to expect that they can have a better future, no matter where they are or where they live. Families are on tight budgets, with rising costs on health care, child care and college tuition.”

Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to release his budget in late January. Seide said it should emphasize fair taxes, decent wages, responsible investments in better transportation, smarter students, healthier families, safer communities and cleaner water for everyone.

The problem with tax cuts

According to Seide, the last time Republicans had control of the Legislature, they proposed tax cuts to corporations and a one-time tax rebate for residents. He said that’s not what Minnesotans want.

“They don’t want to get a few dollars one time and fail to see investments in transportation and education for their children,” he said. “They’d rather not just get a few dollars one time and see their health care costs permanently go up.”

Seide said when the economy is better for working-class people, everyone benefits.

“They spend their money on goods that reproduce through the economy,” he said. “They buy necessities, they buy food, clothing, school supplies for their kids – maybe, if they have a little extra money, a household appliance. This has a greater impact on the economy.”

Much of Minnesota’s $1.4 billion surplus comes from money unspent this year because of stalled tax and transportation bills. Republicans have said the extra money should go to tax cuts and credits. But Dayton has urged caution, saying there are signs the economy is slowing nationally.

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