CHICAGO — Minnesota faces a $6.2 billion budget deficit over the next two years that is about $590 million more than previously projected, according to a new revenue forecast state fiscal officials issued Thursday.
The state will end the year with a $399 million budget surplus, economists said, with most of it coming from federal stimulus dollars.
Revenues for the 2012-2013 period are forecast to grow 5%, or $1.5 billion, over the current two-year revenues, economists said.
But spending is projected to grow by a full 27.5%, or $8.3 billion, they said.
The spending spike is due mostly to one-time savings measures throughout 2010 and 2011, economists said.
Those measures include federal stimulus aid and K-12 school payment shifts, which have allowed the state to balance its budget without major cuts.
“Absent significant changes, the current level of spending, matched against revenue growth permanently lost during the recession, will likely create significant budget gaps well beyond fiscal years 2012 and 2013,” economists warned in a forecast report.
Lawmakers and the state’s new governor will use the figures to craft the upcoming two-year budget.
Minnesota is in the middle of a recount to decide who will become its new governor.
As of Friday, Democrat Mark Dayton led Republican Tom Emmer by a little more than 9,000 votes.
Emmer has not commented on the revenue figures, but Dayton told reporters the new economic forecast will force the next governor and Legislature to make “drastic measures” to cure the 19% deficit rate in the budget.
Dayton said while campaigning that he favors an income tax increase on wealthy citizens.
The governor is required to release a proposed spending plan by Feb. 15. Lawmakers then debate and pass a budget in time to adjourn May 23.