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Published 11:40 am Friday, December 3, 2010


It was no surprise, but still not welcome news, when Minnesotans learned on Thursday that their state faces a $6 billion-plus budget deficit over the next two years. That means tough decisions need to be made, which are likely to touch every Minnesotan in one way or another. While it’s the Legislature and governor that will make those decisions, there’s much to be said for giving them some ideas to work with.

An expected shortfall in state revenues (taxes, that is) means about a $3 billion per year gap between what the state spends and what it takes in. There are two ways to mend that gap: Higher taxes and less spending. Most likely it is going to take some combination of the two, and some of that combination is going to flow through to every Minnesotan – especially because that shortfall is probably not a one-time event. It is likely to be followed by similar shortfalls in future years unless there is a sudden and vigorous statewide economic recovery. (Gov. Tim Pawlenty has, in recent days, suggested that the problem is not very serious, but Minnesotans need to keep in mind that a presidency-minded governor can’t afford to leave behind him a state seen to be in fiscal disarray.)

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The questions that every Minnesotan ought to ask himself or herself are these: What services can we not do without? Can we afford higher taxes and, if so, how much and on whom? We hope anyone who has suggestions (to say there are “answers” would be too bold) will contact Rep. Jeanne Poppe (, newly elected Rep. Rich Murray and Sen. Dan Sparks ( Don’t hesitate to pass your suggestions along to the Herald at our opinion e-mail address:

Minnesota faces a tough budget problem. The more minds that are looking for solutions, the better.