Minn. projects $1.1 billion budget deficit - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Minn. projects $1.1 billion budget deficit

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- The state's budget forecast is being received with mixed reviews as Minnesota heads into a new legislative year with a deficit.

Discussions of a deficit usually come with a negative tone, but for the current state of Minnesota's budget, this time there is a bigger sense of optimism.

The State of Minnesota will now see itself in a $1.1 billion budget deficit. In announcing the budget forecast Wednesday, Governor Mark Dayton immediately went on the offensive.

"The budget I proposed last year to the legislature with the raising of income taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans would have given us a balanced budget and we would not have needed to borrow $752 million more from the schools."

That number is intimidating on its surface, but some legislators do not see this as a big problem.

"What we're actually facing this year in the scheme of things from what we've faced in the past, we do have this improving economy," explains Tina Liebling, a DFL representative from Rochester. "So, it is certainly better than it could've been."

Plans to fix the deficit with any sort of tax increase will be met with significant opposition, and opposing plans from the Republican party.

"If we have a responsible DFL budget proposal," says Mike Benson, a Republican representative from Rochester, "I don't think there needs to be any tax increases at all."

One way to cure what ails the state could be cooperation from both sides of the isle.

"Oh, there's a lot of effort now to work closely between the House, Senate and the Governor," says Liebling, "to try to at least get on the same page in terms of what our priorities are."

"With the potential for this fiscal cliff that we're about to go off at the national level," says Benson, "we need to be very careful, and I think that kind of leadership will be required from both parties."

A deficit in the budget is never positive, but both the DFL and Republicans seem to have a renewed sense of optimism that the issue can be resolved.

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