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Editorial: It'll take teamwork to fix the deficit

Minnesota is facing the worst economic recession since World War II, one that far exceeds the recession of the early 1980s.

The facts are what they are. The state budget forecast released Tuesday for fiscal 2010-2011 pegged the deficit at $4.57 billion. This deficit total declined by $1.3 billion due to the aid Minnesota will receive from the federal stimulus package.

Most experts believe this recession will get worse before it gets better.

Unemployment, now at 7.4 percent in Minnesota and nationally, may grow to more than 9 percent. The state faces serious job losses through the rest of 2009.

These are extraordinary times in Minnesota and the nation. This recession is battering the country, both in our economy and confidence.

The time has come for Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the DFL-controlled Legislature to step outside the box. These opposing sides cannot continue their petty bickering at the expense of Minnesota.

The state must quickly find a workable and sustainable solution to its budget deficit.

The Democratic majority must release its budget plan to the public as soon as possible. Waiting until April to release its plan does not give sufficient time for adequate study, especially in these extraordinary times.

Pawlenty and the Legislature's Republican minority must work their budget plans as soon as possible. While they released their budget proposals earlier this year, Tuesday's budget forecast changes the financial landscape.

This budget deficit will be resolved as required by state law. It will take leadership and tough decisions by Pawlenty and the DFL-controlled Legislature.

The primary question is how long an agrement will take.