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Support Growing for Special Legislative Session

December 3, 2007

St. Paul, MN - A recent financial forecast puts Minnesota $373 million in debt, and several legislative leaders believe the Governor should call a special session to address the state's economic crisis. Nan Madden, of the nonpartisan Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, says the numbers prove the state needs to make long-term investments to promote a brighter economic future.

"The report shows that Minnesota's experiment in this decade -- to respond to fiscal troubles through budget gimmicks, short-term fixes and reduced investments in the state's fiscal and human capital -- have failed."

State economist Tom Stinson blames much of the red ink on job loss. Governor Pawlenty believes Minnesota must "hold the line" on spending and not raise taxes. He notes the shortfall is only one percent of the state budget, but opponents believe the state needs to close corporate loopholes and pass a bonding bill to put people to work.

Madden believes past policies, that promised economic strength and a good quality of life through less spending and avoiding tough budget choices, show that changes are needed.

"We have seen a crumbling transportation infrastructure. More and more schools turn to their local voters with ballot measures just to keep up with rising costs, and an ever-growing number of Minnesota's children are without health insurance. This illustrates that it's time for policymakers to go in another direction."

In her view, there are several steps the state could take right away to change direction.

"First of all, there's a real opportunity to balance the state's revenue system and restore some fairness into our tax system, and to ensure that we are bringing in enough revenues to fund the important investments that Minnesotans are expecting. There are some reforms that should be made in the state's budget process, to ensure that we have a fully informed debate, and make sustainable budget choices for the future."

The budget forecast predicts a deficit of more than $1 billion in two years if current state revenue policies and inflation trends go unchanged. More information about the state budget can found online at www.finance.state.mn.us.

Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MN