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Local lawmakers weigh in on the impact of Minnesota’s budget surplus on Northland

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DULUTH, MN-- Lawmakers in Minnesota are currently deciding what to do with hundreds of millions of dollars.

This comes after a projected surplus of $641 million was announced on Tuesday.

The news came as a surprise to some, as it was just this May it was predicted they would face a $2.3 million shortfall.

"A 641 million dollar surplus is a big change," said DFL Representative Liz Olson.

Olson said the surplus will give hope to many Minnesotans during the current pandemic as it can be used to offer a state relief bill.

"Myself and my colleagues are working on that COVID relief bill with the hope we can have it ready for the special session next week," Olson said.

Republicans are also excited about the surplus for very similar reasons. They as well want to offer a relief plan.

"We are hoping that we can all come together in a bi-partisan fashion very quickly and agree," said Republican Representative Sandy Layman.

The agreement would be on a pretty large relief package for Minnesotans.

"I think the numbers are ranging for a package anywhere from $300 million to $600 million. Now we see an immediate surplus of $600 million. So I think legislators can feel more confident moving forward with that package," said Layman

It is obvious people across the state of Minnesota are feeling the effects of the pandemic. But, such a package would hold value to Northern Minnesota.

"In Northern Minnesota, our employment comes primarily from service and retail. Those jobs were the hardest hit," said Layman

While there are still differences between what the DFL and Republicans would like to see in a package. Collaboration is happening.

"I do believe that there is meaningful engagement between all of the four leaders right now. We are looking for that common ground because that is what we can do right now with a special session in front of us," said Olson.

Representative Olson says she is confident a relief bill we be passed in the Special Session.

While the state is in a good spot right now, the long-term projections don't look nearly as good. There is a projected shortfall of $1.2 billion on July 1st.

Representative Layman said she hopes some money from the rainy day fund is used to alleviate some of that shortfall.

John Cardinale

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