Longtime Minnesota state economist Tom Stinson is retiring and will hand the reins of the post to economics professor Laura Kalambokidis in July, the Minnesota Management and Budget Department announced Monday.

Stinson has served in the role for 26 years. "Dr. Stinson has been an invaluable source of economic wisdom, sound judgment, and common sense for five administrations. He represents the very best in excellent, dedicated public service," Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement.

Stinson, 70, plays a central role in developing the state's revenue forecasts that drive state spending levels in its two-year operating budgets and guide borrowing limits for state capital budgets. Stinson previously worked as an economics researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The state economist position was created in 1975.

At a news conference, Stinson said the time was right to retire given the improving state economy and availability of Kalambokidis, an applied economics professor at University of Minnesota who has assisted with recent state revenue forecasts. "This is the best job that I could have. I'm going to miss it greatly," he said.
Yvette Shields

Hazelden Rating Prospect Positive

Moody's Investors Service has revised its outlook on Hazelden Foundation's A3 rating to positive from stable in recognition of its improved operating results.

The action impacts $32 million of rated debt outstanding debt.  The rating reflects Hazelden's unique position in the market for substance abuse treatment and its international reputation in the field with facilities in geographically diverse markets that include Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, and Florida.

It benefits from a track record of good operating results, and very strong debt coverage and balance sheet ratios that include 335 days cash on hand.

"The revision of the outlook to positive from stable reflects Hazelden's trend of improving operating margins in recent years and our expectations that favorable results will be maintained," Moody' wrote.

Its challenges include an aggressive debt structure with 57% of its debt in floating rate mode with support from one bank — US Bank. It also has a small revenue base of just $134 million and has ongoing capital spending plans.

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