UNDATED - Minnesota lawmakers got an early Christmas present today (Thursday), a budget forecast of an estimated $876 million surplus for the rest of this two-year budget.

Some analysts had been expecting a deficit of close to $1 billion.

However, State Representative King Banaian of St. Cloud says this new found money doesn't mean the state can go on a spending spree.

Banaian says the state also owes schools money from the spending shift that helped balance the state's budget in July.  He says they'll start paying the schools back, if the February forecast is even better.

State Representative Steve Gottwalt of St. Cloud says this is very good news.

Budget officials say we got the surplus because revenues came in nearly $360 million higher than expected, and spending was about $205 million below earlier estimates.