New Minnesota economic forecast due this weekby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota gets an update on its financial health this week when state officials release a new economic forecast.
The numbers will help Gov. Mark Dayton put the finishing touches on a two-year budget proposal that he'll unveil in mid-January. Earlier this year, state officials projected a $1.1 billion deficit looming for the next two-year budget cycle.
Republican Rep. Kurt Daudt, of Crown, the soon-to-be House minority leader, said he expects the forecast to show the budget gap narrowing due to increased state revenues.
"We've seen about a half-billion dollars of additional revenue since the February forecast. Obviously we think those are due to the responsible policies we put in place over the last couple of years, and we're pretty proud of that record. But we're anxiously awaiting to see what those numbers look like on Wednesday," he said.
DFL Senate Majority leader-designate Tom Bakk, of Cook, said he doesn't expect the forecast to show much change in the state fiscal picture. He also stressed that he's more interested in the next forecast that comes in three months.
"These December numbers are really only important to the governor. Because it's these forecast numbers that the governor will have to put his budget together based upon. Then he'll submit that to the Legislature I think the third week in January," Bakk said.
Bakk said the governor's proposal will begin the decision, but the Legislature will actually build the next next two-year budget on the numbers from the February forecast.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say the uncertainty in Washington over the federal "fiscal cliff" could make the make the state forecast less reliable than usual.