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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Minnesota is now expected to see a $1.6 billion surplus instead of $1.3 billion deficit over the next two years, according to an updated state budget forecast released today.

Why it matters: The swing is a sign of the strength of the state's pandemic economic recovery — one that could make it easier for Gov. Tim Walz and legislators to strike a deal on a two-year state spending plan by the summer deadline.

  • Earlier forecasts predicting a big deficit could have required deep cuts to state programs or revenue hikes to balance the budget.

What they're saying: Higher-than-anticipated state tax revenues, reductions in spending and an "improved U.S. economic outlook that is bolstered by large federal actions," such as the December stimulus package, helped fill the gap, according to the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget.

Yes, but: "Improvements to the economic outlook have not been spread equally as unemployment continues to disproportionately impact lower-wage workers," MMB notes.

The big picture: It's not just Minnesota. Many states and local governments are reporting that COVID-19's hit to their budgets weren't as bad as initially feared, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Go deeper

Feb 26, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

State officials have outlined a plan to vaccinate all adult Minnesotans by the summer, giving state residents a better sense of when they will qualify for a shot.

Who's next: An estimated 72,000 people with high risk conditions, including active cancer, oxygen-dependent lung and heart conditions and sickle-cell anemia, and workers at meatpacking and processing plants, with appointments expected in April. 

Feb 25, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Scoop: How much Minneapolis pays in taxes — and gets back in state aid

Photo: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minneapolis generated nearly $2 billion in tax revenue for the state in 2017 — 3.5 times more than what the city got back in state aid, per a new analysis commissioned by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Why it matters: The report, released to Axios yesterday, showcases the outsized role the state's largest city plays in Minnesota's overall economy — and the impact pandemic recovery here will have on the state as a whole.

Virginia governor orders probe into pepper-spraying of Army officer

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, Va. in 2019. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Sunday he's ordered the state police to conduct an independent investigation into a traffic stop during which two officers pepper-sprayed and drew guns on an Army lieutenant.

Driving the news: Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is suing the police officers over the incident, which attracted widespread criticism after video footage emerged. Northam said in a statement he found the incident "disturbing" and that it angered him.

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