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Published December 02, 2010, 04:39 PM

Red, Black, Red: Minnesota Budget Timeline

By: Associated Press,

—February 2001. Minnesota finance officials note slowdown in national economy but predict $1.54 billion surplus. Last time they'll see positive numbers for four years.

—November 2001. Post-Sept. 11 recession hits hard, with projected $1.95 billion deficit.

—February 2002. Picture worsens, with projected $3.21 billion shortfall.

—November 2002. Deficit balloons to $4.56 billion, biggest in state history at that point.

—February 2003. Forecast little changed; Gov. Tim Pawlenty prepares budget featuring cuts, shifts and fees — but no new taxes.

—November 2003. Deficit projections shrink to $185 million after Legislature and Pawlenty cut most deeply into health and social services programs.

—February 2004. Lower-than-expected state spending cuts shortfall to $160 million.

—November 2004. Deficit expands to $700 million as health care costs rise.

—February 2005. Increased tax collections shrink deficit to $466 million. Arguments over where to cut lead to state's first-ever partial government shutdown in July.

—November 2005. Back in black, finance officials anticipate $701 million surplus — all of it needed to pay back schools for accounting shift during deficit years.

—February 2006. Surplus trend continues, with positive balance of $181 million. More than half goes to pay back school aid accounting shift.

—November 2006. Surplus grows to $2.17 billion.

—February 2007. Surplus slightly smaller at $2.16 billion.

—November 2007. Red ink reappears thanks to rising energy prices, housing slump and other economic worries; $373 million deficit projected by June 2009.

—February 2008. Worsening economy widens deficit to $935 million, deepest since 2003.

—December 2008. Deepening recession morphs deficit to $5.2 billion over 2-1/2 years, the state's biggest at that point in sheer dollars. Pawlenty trims $426 million on his own.

—March 2009. Deficit seen at $6.4 billion, trimmed to $4.57 billion by federal stimulus dollars. Stalemate over taxes leads Pawlenty to cut or delay $2.7 billion using obscure executive power, now being challenged in court.

—December 2009. Deficit climbs back to $1.2 billion, with an even worse picture for the following budget cycle: A $5.4 billion shortfall.

—March 2010. Shortfall shrinks to $994 million in the near term, while the projected deficit for the upcoming budget cycle grows to $5.8 billion.

—December 2010. A $399 million surplus crops up for the short run, all of it absorbed by a projected $6.2 billion shortfall starting in July 2011.

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