Well, there is some good news this week. In the funny-numbers world of state government finance, Minnesota has returned to solvency for the first time in four years.
According to the latest budget forecast released Tuesday by state finance officials, a $701 million budget surplus is expected over the next budget cycle, which runs through June 2007.
The predicted surplus - and that's what it is, a prognostication based on educated guesses of expected tax receipts and anticipated expenditures - is small in the context of a $30.5 billion biennial budget, but it's welcome after years of haggling among lawmakers and the administration over how to balance budgets.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty hailed the news the "biggest financial turnaround in the state's history," noting that when he came to office in 2003 the state was facing a $5 billion deficit.
So this is good news, especially if it's the start of something grander. There'll be another forecast in February, just before the Legislature convenes in March for its "off-year" session, sometimes referred to as the "bonding session" for building projects.
If this trend continues, the left-right political arguments in the Legislature can be over new spending vs. tax cutting.
Wear protective gear.
- Duluth News Tribune
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