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Editorial: Take new deficit news seriously

There has been a fair share of disappointing news on the economics front over the past couple of days.

A brief recap:

* Minnesota's overall tax collections for the just-completed fiscal year were $99 million, or 0.7 percent less than forecast. "State officials say there's no reason to worry -- yet," The Associated Press reported Friday. Unfortunately, that sounds a bit ominous to us.

* Also on Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department said national says in May dropped 0.3 percent, the first decline for sales since March of 2009.

* On Monday, Tom Hanson, the budget chief for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said he wants to "set up a line of credit of up to $600 million with U.S. Bank so the state can pay bills when it runs out of flexibility to move money from one account to another," reported Don Davis of Forum Communications' Capital Bureau.

While all three of these items reflect poor developments economically, it's Monday's report that is most troubling. Everyone has heard of companies -- and individuals -- that rob Peter to pay Paul. But what happens if Peter's pockets are emptied? The state would face an enormous fiscal crisis that would make other recent ones look mild. And, as a result, its citizens would suffer the consequences in multiple ways.

This November, Minnesotans must take such fiscal matters seriously. They need to elect a governor and legislators who have both clear and practical solutions for getting Minnesota's checkbook in order.

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