February Forecast: MN Budget Deficit Decreases to $627M

By KBJR News 1

February 28, 2013 Updated Mar 1, 2013 at 2:53 AM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Positive news out of St. Paul following the release of the latest state budget forecast.

New numbers reveal the projected deficit has improved by 40 percent.

Minnesota's economist says these changes are due primarily to national economic growth during the last few months.

The projected deficit now sits at $627 million for the 2014-2015 biennium, down from November's forecast of a $1.1 billion deficit.

The lowered deficit means the state will be able to pay back $290 million dollars owed to schools during this fiscal year.

The forecast also reveals project revenues are up nearly a percent to $36.1 billion, while spending has been reduced to 36.7 billion.

So are there any bad spots in the forecast? The Governor say there's one. Proceeds from the new e-tabs gaming continue to fall below projections.

Electronic pull-tabs, installed in bars across the state last year, were expected to have brought in $35 million dollars to date. However, they only brought in about $7.5 million.

Taxes from the games will be used for the state's portion of a new NFL stadium.

"Obviously, the original projections were wrong," Gov. Dayton said. "I think everybody made their best attempt to do it and get it right. Now we have to figure out how to correct that and make up the difference.

Republicans responded to the forecast Thursday saying that the improvement proves now isn't the time to raise taxes. Doing so, they say, will hurt families in the slow economy.

Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) said despite the positive numbers, significant structural budget issues still remain.

"We still have not paid off the K-12 shift and we still have the tobacco bond hanging out there so all the structural problems that we've known about coming into this session remain, we just have a little better starting point."

Kevin Jacobsen
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