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The Latest: Dayton mum on plans for $329 million surplus

February 28, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Latest on Minnesota’s projected budget surplus (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

Gov. Mark Dayton isn’t ready to start laying out specific plans for using a $329 million budget surplus.

State budget officials delivered the good news of a surplus on Wednesday after previous indications that the Legislature may have to fill a budget shortfall. But the Democratic governor called the surplus modest and cautioned lawmakers against overspending.

Dayton says he may lean on the surplus to fund school safety improvements and to pay for fixes for the state’s troubled new computer system for driver’s licenses and plates. He’ll release a detailed budget proposal on March 15.

One of the top priorities for the Legislature is conforming the state’s tax code with the federal tax overhaul. Dayton says he wants to make sure that effort doesn’t result in major tax increases or cuts.

9:40 a.m.

Minnesota lawmakers have $329 million budget surplus for the year.

Wednesday’s update on the state’s financial standing will be welcome news to state lawmakers who had previously been warned of a small budget shortfall. State officials were expected to explain the situation later Wednesday afternoon.

A previous estimate in December projected a $188 million deficit for 2018. But federal tax breaks and renewed funding for the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program helped reverse the red ink.

The surplus sets the stage for a busy three-month session at the Capitol. One of the Republican-controlled Legislature’s top priorities was squaring the state’s tax code with the recent federal tax overhaul.

Dayton and lawmakers may also leverage the extra cash to fund safety improvements at Minnesota schools in the wake of the deadly Florida school shooting this month.

8 a.m.

Minnesota lawmakers are about to learn how much of a budget surplus they’ll have this year or if they’ll need to solve a deficit.

Budget officials were to present an update Wednesday on the state’s current financial status. It will set the stage for the rest of the 2018 legislative session.

Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders were expecting a modest budget surplus. It would be a reversal from a December estimate that the state may face a slight budget deficit.

One of the Republican-controlled Legislature’s top priorities was squaring the state’s tax code with the recent federal tax overhaul. But Dayton and lawmakers may also leverage a budget surplus to fund safety improvements at Minnesota schools in the wake of the deadly Florida school shooting this month.

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