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Gov. Tim Pawlenty says Tuesday that Democratic leaders need to present a budget balancing plan by mid-March. He said budget news released Tuesday is a step in the right direction. Tribune photo by Don Davis

Budget picture a little better


ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's current budget picture is a bit brighter than three months ago, but the next budget could be the state's biggest-ever financial challenge.

The current budget is $944 million short, state officials announced Tuesday, but depending on what legislators and the governor do in the next few months the budget that begins in mid-2011 could end up with an $8 billion hole. The best scenario for the 2011-12 budget is a $2.8 billion deficit.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.