ST. PAUL -- Minnesota has a massive 7.7-billion-dollar state budget surplus, the biggest in recent history by a large margin, according to the just-released economic forecast.

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Democratic Representative Dan Wolgamott of St. Cloud says this is an opportunity to help middle and lower-income Minnesotans who have been impacted by the pandemic over the past two years.

Child care costs, health care costs, paid family medical leave. This is a chance to throw down for working Minnesotans and working families in our community and make sure that they have the support that they need.

Wolgamott says he is open to possible tax cuts as well.

Meanwhile, Republican Lisa Demuth of Cold Spring says this is an opportunity to help Minnesota businesses with unemployment insurance. She says the Governor could use the COVID relief money for that which is due, on December 15th.

Demuth also questions how we got to this point.

If you remember back a year ago just in December of 2020 we were looking at a $1.3 billion shortfall, which was frightening, then come February of 2021 it looked like we were going to have a $1.6 billion surplus, which was good news, and now it's a $7.7 billion surplus.

Demuth says that's a $9 billion swing within a year. The next state legislative session is set to begin in January.

The huge surplus will trigger a flurry of lobbying by interest groups.

Democrats will likely push for a larger amount than 250 million dollars, to allow bigger COVID bonuses for a wider group of front-line workers -- something they and Republicans have been unable to agree on. They'll also likely push for a big bonding bill for state public works projects, plus other state programs.

Business groups want lawmakers to ease their burden of replenishing the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which has been depleted by COVID.

And a poll by the conservative think-tank, Center of the American Experiment, concludes Minnesotans by a two-to-one margin want the surplus used for tax cuts and state debt reduction, with only one-quarter wanting more government spending.

This story is courtesy of the Minnesota News Network.

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