The Minnesota Department of Management and Budget announced last week that the state’s budget surplus is now expected to reach $9.3 billion.
dollars, which is by far the largest the state has ever seen.
There are several reasons for the situation. A statement released by MMB said the amount of money provided to the state by federal Covid relief programs has reached several billion dollars, higher-than-expected consumer spending has led to higher tax revenues, and as Rep. Todd Lippert noted, corporate profits are much higher than expected, which has also boosted tax revenue.
The Republican legislative response to the surplus was to pass a bill in the Senate that would repay $2.7 billion to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund and announce a tax cut initiative which would amount to 8.5 billion dollars.
Lippert, the Democratic representative for District 20B, said he and his DFL colleagues are unlikely to support tax cuts for big business at a time when their profits are so high.
“And that really shapes the debate on Capitol Hill. It shapes my resolve and that of my colleagues as we begin to have conversations. Because our colleagues across the way talk about permanent tax cuts for big business, and we need to focus on the needs of families and the needs of Minnesotans whose budgets are not keeping up.
Another reason Lippert has said he is not prepared to support a tax cut is that much of the surplus is made up of one-time payments to the state. Equally important, he said, is the warning in the MMB report that the state’s economy could be heading into decline. While the state has experienced unexpected economic growth during the pandemic, the report notes that “uncertainty due to inflation and geopolitical strife poses a risk to [both] the budget and the economic outlook.
Domestically, inflation is at its highest level in forty years, while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has wreaked havoc on global trade markets that will only continue to grow for months.
Lippert said that with more economic uncertainty now than a month ago, the idea of a broad-based tax cut would not receive much support with him or the rest of the DFL. Rather, he said, the state should start thinking about putting more money into reserves while these larger issues unfold.
Rich Larson’s full conversation with Rep Todd Lippert can be heard here
The library is working to be more teen-friendly
The Northfield Public Library strives to deepen and enhance the library experience for Northfield teens.
The library has established a Teen Advisory Council which, together with Youth Services Librarian Catherine Stricklan, is a service group designed to give teens a voice at the library.
According to the library’s website, the council is making the library a better place for teens to visit and find what they need. Its members volunteer to plan, promote and implement programs for teen events, recommend materials for the library’s collection, and serve as spokespersons for teens in the community.
Director of Library Services Natalie Draper said the council was instrumental in the development of the recently opened Teen Space. She said the area will be run by teens for teens and give them a space to just be themselves.
“It’s still a bit of a work that I go forward,” she said. “We have the collection in there, we have furniture in there and we put paint on the walls.”
Part of the idea, she said, came from her own experience in libraries as a teenager.
“You know, my experience as a teenager in libraries wasn’t always – although I always felt at home in the library – I didn’t necessarily feel like I was wanted there. And so, that’s always been on my mind. Of course, a teenager who becomes a librarian thinks of these kinds of things. ‘How was I received as a teenager in the library, and how could it have been handled differently?’
Another program that benefits teens, as well as students of all ages, is the new walk-in tutoring program. Draper said the service is available Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The program is a collaboration with Carleton College, providing work-study students who are available to help at any grade level with any academic subject. Draper said such a program has been needed since before she arrived at the library and, with concerns about the pandemic beginning to ease, she is very happy that they were able to put it in place and make it work. .
Rich Larson’s full conversation with Northfield Library Services Director Natalie Draper can be heard here
The municipal council will discuss several subjects in a working session
Northfield City Council will be meeting tomorrow evening in a working session which will feature several topics that council is likely to discuss many times over the next few months.
After a lively conversation last week about flood mitigation procedures in residential areas, council will receive a presentation on the Town Center Flood Study which has been underway for over a year. There will also be a preliminary review of alternative options for redrawing wards and constituencies. There will be an introduction for the council to the Heritage Lofts apartment development project, as well as the accompanying application for tax increment funding. And finally, council will begin a discussion on proposed changes to ordinances related to local rental and nuisance codes.
As always, Northfield City Council and City staff are eager to hear the public’s views on any issue, whether the topic is on Council’s agenda or not. As this is a working session, Council will not hear from the public during the session. However, those wishing to make a point, express an opinion or ask a question can email their councilor directly or use the eComment feature found in the “Agendas” section of the city website.
Rich Larson is KYMN’s News Director. Contact him at [email protected]
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