Minnesota has lost a greater share of revenue than most states due to COVID-19

This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

Minnesota's budget whiplash spun the conversation nearly overnight from which school investments to make and taxes to cut, to whose paycheck to shave and programs to eliminate.

March arrived with a projected $1.5 billion surplus; a state estimate released Friday said the revenue shortfall would reach $4.7 billion for the next two years.

"This happening in a matter of several months was just breathtaking," said the state's lead finance official, Myron Frans. "When you look at the charts, it just showed the revenues were just dropping like a lead balloon."

If there was a saving grace, it was the more than $2 billion in the state's rainy-day reserves, which were methodically restocked after the Great Recession wiped out the prior cushion. State leaders are reluctant to exhaust the reserve in one swoop.

The governor and his cabinet took 10 percent pay cuts and a hiring freeze was imposed, resulting in about $60 million in savings. Everything else will be fair game for spending reductions when lawmakers return in January.

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