The target shouldn’t move anymore.
Minnesota’s February economic forecast is the last updated estimate Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature are scheduled to get before their deadline for producing a balanced budget for the next two fiscal years.
The deadline itself could move — and it probably will — if all parties don’t agree by the Legislature’s scheduled May 23rd adjournment date.
But estimates of the sums the state can expect to collect and spend under current law won’t change whether High Noon for the budget comes in May, late June or even beyond.
So now is the time for elected officials at the state Capitol to revise their calculations, lay out specific choices and make the difficult tradeoffs.
You can do the same.
MinnPost’s deficit calculator has been updated to reflect the fact that the new fiscal forecast reduces the state’s expected budget shortfall for 2012 and 2013 — from the $6.2 billion that was projected last November to $5 billion.
In response, Gov. Mark Dayton announced changes in his proposed budget. Our calculator reflects those changes too.
While the shrunken shortfall is welcome news, it still leaves a daunting gap for Minnesota to fill. If anything, the debate will heat up during the weeks ahead.
“At the end of the day we still have a $5 billion deficit which will be a challenge for all parties to resolve,” the state’s Management and Budget Commissioner James Schowalter said at a news conference Monday announcing the revised budget forecast.
Balancing the state budget is not child’s play. But the tradeoffs are loaded with the interests of the next generation.
So one thing you might try as you track the upcoming debate is to do MinnPost’s budget exercise as a family, discussing your choices around the dinner table.
School groups could have a go at it, too, as a lesson in civic engagement.
As always, MinnPost welcomes your feedback.