The really big number

So, elected officials of Minnesota, you’ve got come up with $5.2 billion in additional revenue and/or cuts to balance the state’s budget. Where do you start?

Oh, and by the way, your 10 percent down payment on that deficit is due in June, by way of a $436 million shortfall in the current budget session.

If you’re a budget nut, here’s the PDF of the November financial report.

Inside the report, you’ll find this nugget:

Spending projections for FY 2010-11 and FY 2012-13 do not include estimated inflation.

Inflation, based on the CPI, is forecast to be 0.2 and 3.1 percent for FY 2010 and FY

2011 respectively. At these levels, the cost of inflation would be $650 million in the next


Inflation aside, the deficit works out to approximately $1,014 for every Minnesotan (based on 2007 population estimates) and $2,063 for every Minnesota taxpayer.

How do you plan to contribute? Higher health care costs? Higher local property taxes? Denser classrooms?

1:33 p.m.: It seems as though Californians and their $11.2 billion budget deficit have it easy. The Sacramento Bee says every adult in the Golden State needs to pony up $429 to cover the state’s shortcomings.

Trivia: Total box office gross of movies in which California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears: $1,621,940,362

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: Negligible

1:55 p.m.: The newsroom passes along this press release from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

States, which already have closed $40 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget gaps, face at least an additional $97 billion they must close over the next 18 to 24 months, according to a national report issued today by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Fifteen states are forecasting double-digit gaps in FY 2010. The largest are in Arizona (24.2 percent), New York (20 percent), California (18 percent), Wisconsin (17.2 percent), Minnesota (14.7) and Kansas (14.5 percent).

2:10 p.m.: Pawlenty’s plan is starting to take shape. Here’s what won’t be happening, according to the governor.

  • – New taxes
  • – A stadium for the Vikings
  • – Raising revenue with gambling money
  • – Using money from the voter-approved outdoors/arts sales tax amendment to help fill the gap

3:02 p.m.: Gov. Pawlenty is apparently Twittering the budget crisis.

4:02 p.m.: Gov. Pawlenty is apparently not Twittering the budget crisis anymore. More on this here…

  • Ever since Pawlenty and Moe struck a deal to exclude inflation from forecasts, we’ve been on the edge. Now, we’re over the edge.

    Is it any surprise, what with the Depression setting in?

    Let’s see if the Legislature has the guts to not only deal with this, but deal with the instabilities inherent in the system that have clearly made it worse. I’ll be watching.

  • What’s the real story – I think this is some pinko plot to make the people I support look bad!

    Polinaut is reporting only 4.8 billion!!

    By the way I am joking, but seriously I makes my people look bad. Just kidding again!!

  • Alison

    How do you just rule out tax increases with a problem of this magnitude? Clearly tax increases aren’t the only solution, maybe not even the best solution. However, this problem seems big enough to require quite a few solutions added together. Everyone is going to have to give.

  • bsimon

    “Pawlenty’s plan is starting to take shape. Here’s what won’t be happening, according to the governor.

    – New taxes

    – A stadium for the Vikings

    – Raising revenue with gambling money

    – Using money from the voter-approved outdoors/arts sales tax amendment to help fill the gap”

    That’s all fine and good, but so far I haven’t heard Governor No describe what he will do. His proposed budget will come out soon enough; I wonder if he has the guts to propose anything other than slashing services. My guess is ‘no’.

  • Aaron

    Here’s what Gov. Pawlenty’s plan will include:

    * Emptying the Health Care Access Fund

    * Cutting eligibility for MinnesotaCare

    * Cutting state subsidies for mass transit, assuming the metro can fund it with their sales tax

    * Lots of little fee hikes and funding shifts (Airport fund, anyone?)

    * A 5 percent or greater cut to MnSCU and the U of M – wait, scratch that, cut MnSCU, freeze the U.

    * Something like a 1-2% cut in K-12 education

    And that’s not even gotten us halfway. There will be a lot of talk about how families have to live on a budget, and how we will all have to tighten our belts, and how there’s a difference between needs and wants, and lots of fatherly hectoring about the spendthrift ways of the legislature. In short, get ready for Pawlenty to kick on his annoying father figure schtick…whoopdedoo…

  • Bob

    Bob, here’s a question for you and for the media in general: Why aren’t you talking about the 8,000 lb. gorilla in the room? The gorilla I’m referring to is the sheer incompetence of Pawlenty’s position on taxes.

    Or maybe the 8,000 lb. gorilla is Pawlenty’s lack of moral courage and leadership.

    If Pawlenty prevails, there will be a giant sucking sound as our state gets flushed down the toilet.

  • Bonnie

    I guess its move to California along with the Vikings.

  • bsimon

    That’s a curious userid for the governor to be using for twittering. Perhaps it is not really the governor?

  • bigalmn

    To bad we did not save up a few of those surpluses from days gone by instead of each getting back $50 or whatever it was. We would have enough money in the bank to cover these shortfalls and probably even more.

    If our politicians ever stop being politcians maybe they will save in the good times for the bad times. They should be doing just like we are told to do. Make sure you have 3 to 5 months salary in the bank so if you hit the skids you have something to pick yourself up with.

  • Al

    bigalmn hit the nail on the head. I was saying that back when they were giving the money back.

  • Paul


    I feel completely at home here with these comments. Maybe the bankruptcy of Magic Plan Economics (cut taxes and wait for the magic to happen) has finally achieved popular consciousness. Could it be that people are finally realizing that there is no such thing as magic? Could it be that people are realizing that their $500 tax cuts are costing them thousands?

    I can only hope against hope that people now begin to realize what a jerk our governor really is and stop talking about how “likable” he is. He will now what do what he’s always done, use the deficit that he either created or exacerbated, as an excuse to slam the weakest and most helpless people in the state. He’s already slammed old people in nursing homes, children in wheel chairs, and the poor bastards of Henn county who are now building Polad a stadium (due to his one and only outright tax hike). Where I come from there’s a word for people who slam kids in wheel chairs, and it ain’t “nice”.

  • Lee

    Is anyone surprised that Pawlenty is still chained by his pledge to 20 of the richest Minnesotans, a.k.a Tax Payer League of Minnesota.

    Should we remind him that he is here to serve all 4 million or so Minnesotans. Not the only those Minnesotans with $4 Million in cash?

    We need a real solution from our state govt, not more of this ideological crap that doesn’t actually help.

    As we all know, we need to cut spending and increase revenue, balance both of them. We can’t completely throw away our future for a few years of debt today. Oh sorry that would be strategic planning something Pawlenty is awful at (Jobz anyone?).