Total Budget Number Confusing

It seems like reporting how much money the state is spending should be simple.

Nope.

Republicans like to say the final two-year state budget is a bit more than $34 billion. To a point, they are right. That is how much comes out of the state-tax-supported General Fund.

But that number does not include two forms of borrowing that boost how much money the state can spend. When those figures are added in, the number is $35.7 billion. That probably is the figure Minnesotans will see most often.

To add to the confusion, the state actually will spend something north of $60 billion in the next two years.

That number includes funds like those that come from the federal government that the state has little control over. It also includes other special funds, such as those that come from transportation-related taxes and can be spent on nothing other than transportation.

And to further confuse people, different states look at budgets differently. Some states, such as Wisconsin, traditionally use the all-funds budget figure (equivalent to Minnesota’s $60 billion), while many states like Minnesota usually just note the General Fund budget.

But no matter what figure is used, it is sure to be debated in the politically charged atmosphere in Minnesota.