UPDATE 1-Minnesota forecasts $1.1 bln deficit for next budget

Wed Dec 5, 2012 5:48pm EST

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Dec 5 (Reuters) - Minnesota faces a nearly $1.1 billion deficit in its upcoming two-year budget, mainly due to nonrecurring measures that were used to balance the current budget, according to a forecast released on Wednesday.

The state issued tobacco bonds and delayed state aid payments to school districts to help eliminate a $5 billion hole in its current budget. While the fiscal 2012-2013 budget is projected to end the biennium in the black, the ending balance will be used to reduce the amount of shifted school payments to $1.1 billion from $2.4 billion, the forecast released by the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget said.

Governor Mark Dayton said the state was done with budget-balancing gimmicks.

"We're going to make tough decisions, there will be unpopular decisions, there will be hard decisions, but that's what we're going to do," he said in a statement.

For the fiscal 2014-2015 biennium that begins July 1, Minnesota is projecting revenue at nearly $35.8 billion, an $849 million increase over the current biennium.

In the absence of a solution to the U.S. "fiscal cliff", which would lead to higher taxes and big federal spending cuts next year, Minnesota's revenue for the upcoming biennium could be about $1.75 billion lower than projected, according to the forecast.

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