State lawmakers find out later today (1130am news release, 2pm press conference) what will likely be bad news when the Walz administration releases an updated economic forecast prompted by the COVID-19 crisis. The state had a projected one-and-a-half-billion-dollar budget surplus before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans said he now “can’t imagine we’re not in a deficit situation.” Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans are out of work, and the state is paying unemployment benefits plus spending hundreds of millions of dollars on emergency COVID measures — while income and sales tax collections are shrinking. Federal assistance will ease the situation somewhat. The state also has about two billion dollars in its “rainy day” budget reserve — but how long that would last remains to be seen.
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