After last year’s spending spree, Gov. Walz is a little late on responsible budgeting

After a $1.5 billion deficit forecast from the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), Gov. Walz appears to be taking the agency’s warning seriously, proposing a budget that according to him prioritizes the nuts and bolts of state government, and maintains a responsible balanced budget.

As the Star Tribune reports,

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz proposed an array of modest adjustments to the state budget this year on Monday, focusing on public safety, children and safe drinking water.

Citing the sweeping changes made last year, Walz said his latest offering is restrained and focused. “We’re implementing life-changing programs like paid family and medical leave,” he said, adding, “This is a bonding year. It’s not a budget year.”

He described his smaller, supplemental budget proposal as focused on safety, children and water. “We’ll do this all by doing what we’ve done every single time, maintaining responsible balanced budgets,” he said.

But where was this responsible budgeting last year when the legislature blew Minnesota’s $18 billion surplus on expanding the state government?

Last year, there was hardly any discussion about focusing on the nuts and bolts of state government. Instead, little of the surplus was given back to select Minnesotans while the state budget grew to a record $70 billion.

Minnesota’s budget surplus for the current biennium has certainly grown since the December 2023 forecast. However, most of that growth is expected to come from corporate income taxes, which can be unreliable. So, while Walz’s gesture to keep $2 billion untouched will provide a cushion in the 2026-27 biennium, it is unlikely to address the long-term budget issues stemming from last year’s spending spree.

Minnesota needed responsible budgeting last year. Walz is a little late.