An AP Report published on reports that the projected  state budget deficit will drop from $6.2 billion to $5 billion. “The Minnesota Management and Budget forecast says federal cuts in payroll taxes and a delay in higher capital gains taxes have improved this year’s economic outlook.”

Keep in mind that GOP leaders say the deficit is even smaller because the projected figure includes automatic increases in spending that they’d like to reduce (think of it as government spending on auto-pilot).

Former Governor Pawlenty says that the auto-pilot spending amounts to 27% of the budget:

“State government spending on autopilot is ridiculous and irrational. It is out of control and needs to be fixed,” Governor Pawlenty said. “With revenues projected to increase 5 percent, it is absurd that state government is on track for a whopping 27 percent jump in spending. That’s why the next governor and legislature should reform this broken process by passing my Spending Accountability Amendment so Minnesotans will never face this problem again.”

The amendment,which is still being considered, would cap the state general fund budget at the level of revenue actually received during the previous budget period.

Instead of auto-pilot spending, we’d have auto-pilot control. The need for such an amendment is a  sad commentary on representative democracy but a pragmatic idea whose time has come.