Lori Sturdevant, an editorial writer and columnist, has covered state government and politics for more than 30 years.

More grease for the skids

Posted by: Lori Sturdevant Updated: April 10, 2012 - 5:28 PM

I know what state economist Tom Stinson would say: Don't call it a surplus. The $106 million "positive variance" from the state's revenue forecast in February and March state tax collections, announced Tuesday, doesn't alter the bottom line for the biennium -- not until he says it does in an official forecast, anyway.

Nevertheless, just knowing that collections were running that strong in the past two months might make some state lawmakers more open to deal-making when the Legislature returns from spring break next week.

For example, knowing that the economy is generating those kind of numbers might open some GOP minds to the idea that a bonding bill is affordable. Or it might make DFL Gov. Mark Dayton less jealously protective of the state's $1 billlion reserve fund.

Last week, Dayton refused to tap the reserve to the tune of more than $400 million for a GOP-backed bill to accelerate the repayment of money the state "borrowed" (via a payment delay) from schools. But that doesn't necessarily mean he wouldn't nick the reserve a little for the sake of making a deal, particularly when the February-March evidence suggests that the economy might be taking care of the reserve on its own.

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