Notebook: Schools Benefit From More Higher State Revenue

By Don Davis

Minnesota schools will get $463 million more because state revenues are that much higher than expected.

A Wednesday report from Minnesota Management and Budget showed personal income tax $335 million above projections to lead the increase. That is 3.9 percent higher than expected, with corporate income taxes 10 percent higher.

Sales taxes were down slightly in the year that ended June 30.

State law requires all excess state revenue be used to help repay money the state has borrowed from schools in recent years.

About $400 million remains to be paid back to schools after the Wednesday news.

State finance officials said much of the income tax increase came because many higher-income Minnesotans opted to move income to 2012 to avoid higher taxes expected in 2013. That was a one-time increase in state revenues, they said.

Gov. Mark Dayton said the report shows Minnesota has a good economy.

“Our state’s strong economic growth has enabled us to work our way out of previous budget deficits and repay most of what we owed our school districts,” Dayton said.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, credited a DFL budget passed two months ago for the good news.

“We mandated in our budget that repayment be accelerated and today that commitment paid off,” Thissen said. “This is good news not only for Minnesota kids, but for a stable state budget and a stronger economic future in Minnesota.”

Republicans said the news was due to a mostly Republican-written budget two years ago.

“Democrats have no excuse to raise taxes when indications show we can bring in additional revenue to the state and fund our priorities by not raising taxes and allowing the economy to grow,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said.

Canada sends smoke

Canadian wildfire smoke is drifting across much of Minnesota, the state Pollution Control Agency reports.

The agency reported Wednesday that air pollution monitors in many parts of Minnesota measured elevated fine particulate pollution. While the agency did not issue an air quality advisory because pollution appeared to be just moderate, people sensitive to air pollution still could be affected.

Hazy skies were predicted, with isolated areas of dense smoke possible.

Winds should shift to a more southerly direction today, which could bring smoke from United States wildfires.

Need for speed kills

Minnesota publictraffi safety officials say young drivers who like to drive fast account for nearly 60 percent of the speed-related deaths in the state.

Figures the Office of Traffic Safety released Wednesday show that drivers younger than 30 were involved in 57 percent of the 243 speed-related traffic deaths in 2010 to 2012. Those 65 and older were involved in just 5 percent of the speed-related deaths.

The Public Safety Department is stepping up speed enforcement through July 21.