State budget deficit "only" $994 million

You know your state's budget is FUBAR when a projected $994 million budget deficit is heralded as an improvement.

State economists today released the forecast deficit number, which is to say they had T-Paw stand before cameras and unapologetically proclaim the degree to which they believe they misspent your money.

They (the economists) put the deficit just shy of $1 billion for the rest of the budget cycle. The good news: that's about $200 million better than expected. The bad news: it's still crazy-high and suggests the state's current economic course is unsustainable. Same economists are publicly predicting the shortfall will be $5.8 billion in the next two-year cycle.

  Regarding unemployment figures, officials are straddling the line between "cautiously optimistic" and "fuck if we know." From the Strib.

According to figures released Tuesday, Minnesota employers added 15,600 jobs in January, the largest one-month gain in state employment since April 2005. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development also said the state's unemployment rate fell to 7.3 percent in January from 7.4 percent in December. The national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in January.

Agency commissioner Dan McElroy cautioned not to get too joyful about the trend.

"The unemployment rate has been trending downward in recent months, but it's still too early to say whether the state economy has reached a turning point," he said in a news release.