The budget turnaround

When Gov. Tim Pawlenty took office, he inherited a $4.5 billion two-year budget deficit. Four years later, he claimed some credit “for the biggest financial turnaround in state history.” The occasion in November 2006 was a projected $2.2 billion surplus. “We just climbed out of a big hole, and I am going to make sure Minnesota doesn’t get thrown back in by overspending,” Governor Pawlenty said at the time.

If the projected budget deficit hits $7 billion when it’s announced today — and some legislative leaders say it likely will — that previous “biggest financial turnaround in state history” will be replaced by a new “biggest financial turnaround in state history.” In this case, a U-turn.

When the governor last had a huge budget deficit, it constitutes about 15 percent of the previously passed two-year budget. If the projected budget deficit for the next two-year cycle hits $7 billion, that will climb to 20% of the size of the previous budget.

This time, however, there are few accounting gimmicks and shifts left to use to erase it.

We will, of course, have coverage of the announcement during the day. Be sure to check the archive of Monday’s Midday broadcast, during which former Republican Gov. Al Quie and former DFL Sen. Majority Leader Roger Moe offered their ideas of how to clean up the mess.

Though I haven’t seen the show’s plans for today, yet, I’m presuming they’ll tackle the issue once again.

MPR will provide live coverage of the governor’s news conference on Midday, followed by analysis with former lawmaker Phil Krinkie and former Capitol reporter — now head of Growth & Justice Committee — Dane Smith.

By the way, later today on All Things Considered, Marty Moylan looks at whether people are trying to gamble their way out of this. Are people gambling more?

  • I guess we didn’t tax and spend, maybe we just spent. Not sure what the money got spent on. It wasn’t the schools.

  • Well, yeah – it WAS the schools. Billions and billions of dollars.

    We spent it on absurd administrative salaries, building huge, gold-plated schools that serve as monuments to the wisdom of the sitting administrtion but are kinda useless for teaching kids, on a special ed machine that’s growing like weeds in spring and serves largely as both a cash cow and a means to engineer behavior, on legions of useless administrative staff…

    …and all for what?

    There is a system that needs to be abolished and restarted from scratch.

  • Alison

    ‘Are people gambling anymore?’

    Do you mean other than in their 401ks?