The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 28, 2013

State budget deficit shrinks by 40 percent

ST. PAUL — Minnesota finance officials said Thursday that the state’s projected budget deficit has shrunk by more than 40 percent, leaving legislators with a more manageable, but still large, $627 million hole to fill over the next couple of months.

The updated economic forecast released by the Department of Minnesota Management and Budget sets the tone for a legislative debate over a two-year budget that starts July 1 and runs through June 2015.

The last forecast, released in December, showed a $1.1 billion deficit, and that’s what Gov. Mark Dayton relied upon to build his budget. He will release a supplemental budget in March to account for the changed projection.

The better news could prompt Dayton to scale back his proposed tax increases.

Legislators have held off plunging too deeply into the budget process until the release of the new economic report.

“Well this is a relief,” said Rep. Leon Lillie, DFL-North St. Paul. He said the revised numbers would let lawmakers consider jettisoning some of Dayton’s less popular tax proposals, though he said spending the additional money should also be part of the discussion.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned so far this session, it’s that there’s so much need out there,” said Lillie, an assistant House majority leader.

A new projection for the budget year that closes in June shows a surplus of $295 million. Almost all of it is required to be used to pay IOUs to Minnesota schools, reducing a backlog in deferred payments to $801 million.

Minnesota has lurched from deficit to deficit for most of the past decade, and lawmakers have resorted to temporary fixes to get by. They have delayed school aid payments, borrowed against a tobacco lawsuit settlement and plugged in one-time federal stimulus dollars for programs that require ongoing spending.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • ND deputy hurt in scuffle Suspect charged with assaulting, trying to disarm law officer

    July 28, 2014

  • Fergus Falls plans deer hunt Hunters are selected by a lottery, pay $20 fee

    July 28, 2014

  • Man killed in home invasion Homeowner's son in Ray, Minn., fires fatal shot

    July 28, 2014

  • Charges filed in July 8 fatal Dodge Center woman criminally charged in fatal car crash

    July 28, 2014

  • American doctor in Africa gets treatment for Ebola BOONE, N.C. (AP) — An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Salmonella Outbreak Trial [Duplicate] Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia ATLANTA (AP) — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georg

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals WASHINGTON — For the 8 million people who persevered through all the technical travails in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enroll

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped c

    July 27, 2014

  • Solar car race to end at University of Minnesota MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A cross-country solar car race is set to finish at the University of Minnesota on Monday. About 10 solar cars from colleges around the world are competing in the eight-day, 1,700-mile American Solar Challenge. The race began July

    July 27, 2014

  • Dozens of oil trains pass through Minnesota weekly Railroad documents released by the state Department of Public Safety show about 50 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota are passing through Minnesota each week.

    July 26, 2014