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HOW TO SPEND THE SURPLUS: Northern Minnesota lawmakers talk plans for $7.7 billion

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 7:30 PM CST
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MINNESOTA - After Minnesota leaders announced a projected budget surplus of $7.7 billion on Tuesday, Northern Minnesota lawmakers are weighing on what they hope the money goes toward.

Republican state senator Jason Rarick of Pine City and DFL state senator Jen McEwen of Duluth agree the money should go toward working class Minnesotans.

“We have a lot of small rural towns that were disproportionately affected by the shutdowns, and so if we can focus some recovery efforts for them as well [that would be good].” said Rarick.

McEwen believes the surplus indicates corporations and the wealthy received too much aid from the state.

“Those corporations and individuals have gained so much from the labor of workers in our society, from infrastructure, from all the things we provide as a society, and they need to pay a fair amount of tax,” she said.

She hopes the money can go toward social programs like Earned Sick and Safe Time and Paid Family Medical Leave.

“Now is the time that we see the evidence here with this really large surplus that we need to make those spending decisions for Minnesotans, for our essential needs,” said McEwen.

Rarick is more focused on programs that will support the workforce amid a nationwide supply chain issue.

“Jobs are out there, now we need to focus on training people to man those jobs. I think that’s something that as a state we could do to help alleviate the worker shortage to help get things done,” he said.

In addition to programs, the projected growth will also be used to fully replenish the state’s “rainy day fund,” which was depleted during the pandemic.

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