Editorial: State should consider new budget forecast

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny asked Gov. Jesse Ventura to order a sped-up revenue forecast in time for the election, so the candidates can have some hard numbers to work with when they offer their plans on solving the problem. It’s an idea that makes plenty of sense and can offer Minnesotans a better chance at getting a handle on the men who want to govern the state.

As it stands, all the candidates have given a general idea of how they’d tackle the problem: Republican Tim Pawlenty is the only one who swears he won’t raise taxes; Penny and Democrat Roger Moe say a mix of tax increases and spending cuts are needed; and the Green Party’s Ken Pentel basically would have the government raise money in new ways. But none can provide a specific plan because they don’t have up-to-date numbers.

There is, of course, the likelihood that the revenue forecast will change again before the next governor and legislature get down to business, but at least having a more accurate guess at the size of the state’s deficit would provide a standard to which each candidate can fit his plans, and by which his plans can be judged.

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It may seem strange for state government to alter its procedures to suit political campaigns &045; and the fact that Penny, who has gotten Ventura’s enthusiastic support, is the one asking for it may raise eyebrows &045; but in the end, the state’s best interest would be serviced if the voters had as many tools as possible to make an informed choice at the polls.