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Editorial: Heed the winds of (mis)fortune

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Don't mistake Minnesota state government's projected $1.1 billion surplus as money in the bank. Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said as much during Thursday's announcement.

A budget forecast, like a weather forecast, is rarely perfect. Compare the two for a moment.

The financial forecast won't be updated until February; the weather forecast will be updated numerous times during the day -- and still may be wrong by tomorrow.

The Democrats say the forecast means one thing, while Republicans and Independents may interpret the numbers differently. Meteorologists at competing television stations don't necessarily agree either.

Revenue projections incorporate a multitude of facts and more unknowns. These include current and projected income tax collections, retail sales, unemployment figures, wages and benefits, corporate profits, expenses, world events and the political climate.

The study of the atmosphere incorporates low and high fronts, clouds, winds, precipitation, air masses, temperature swings, storms and volcanic eruptions, plus gravity, the sun, the moon and the unexpected disaster.

Five months into a two-year budget, Minnesota may have more money than expected. We're cautiously optimistic.

Economics, like meteorology, is not an exact science. No one knows what the winds of change will bring come February.

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