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State Budget Surplus Shrinks

Joyce Russell/IPR
Republican State Auditor Mary Mosiman

Republican State Auditor Mary Mosiman warns that an $800 million state budget surplus has now fallen to about $80 million because of big property tax cuts and a new teacher leadership program.   

She warns against new multi-year commitments, now that state tax receipts have dwindled. 

Mosiman says when lawmakers passed the big programs, the state could afford them.

“It’s taxpayer money and we need to do something with it,” Mosiman says.  “So they put it to use with the multiyear commitments being education and property tax reform.” 

She adds with the surplus nearly depleted fiscal discipline is especially important.  

“Now that our revenues are more moderate we need to make sure our expenditures remain lower than our revenues,” Mosiman says. “If that reverses I will get nervous.”

The property tax cuts are expected to cost the state treasury on average more than $300 million a year for a total of nearly $4 billion.   

But Mosiman praised the legislature and the governor for the budget they approved for the fiscal year that starts on Friday.   

She said the reserve funds required by law are full, and for the 7th year in a row the state is not spending more than it is taking in.

Mosiman gives state policymakers a "B plus" grade on their budgeting.

“I have two daughters who are teachers and I know not to just give blanket A’s," Mosiman said.  

Next year’s state budget spends more than eight-and-half billion dollars in state tax money, a roughly two percent increase over this year.