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ST. PAUL – State Representative Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) said he was encouraged that Minnesota’s current budget deficit is shrinking, but disappointed that the 2012-13 budget cycle shows an even greater shortfall than previously projected.
“Right now, we’re $209 million better off than we thought,” Gunther said. “The good news is we’ll have to make fewer cuts, at least this year. But the next budget deficit is going to be extremely ugly.”
Lawmakers will now have to solve a $994 million budget deficit before the 2010 legislative session ends. Gunther said it would be wise for legislative leadership to begin tackling the 2012 problem now, as projections show a $5.8 billion deficit over that timeframe.
“When the majority party determines its budget targets, we can solve this problem,” Gunther said. “The Governor has given us a balanced budget proposal. We’re still waiting on legislative leadership to come up with a plan. Hopefully we’ll see something soon, as each passing day puts us deeper in debt.”
Gunther said 77 percent of the budget deficit is due to a decline in personal income taxes resulting from people losing jobs and taking pay cuts. Individual income tax receipts are now forecast to be $874 million less than end-of-session estimates.
Gunther said the economic math is very simple: Projections show that Minnesota can expect to collect $2.9 billion in revenue, and without spending reform, it can expect to spend $7.6 billion.
“Raising taxes should not be an option when people don’t have a job and have less money to spend,” Gunther said. “Once again, the numbers prove Minnesota has a spending problem, and it’s time we get this problem under control.”
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