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Minnesota could face deficit of $6 billion to $7 billion

ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty is warning that the Minnesota's deficit could be as large as $6 billion or $7 billion.

The GOP governor mentioned the figures during a speech to the Minnesota Association of Townships near the Capitol.

The budget gap is currently projected at $4.8 billion through mid-2011, but that figure was released in November right before job losses intensified and could be fully factored in.

State finance officials are preparing to update the state's budget forecast in early March.

Pawlenty also says his proposal to pull back spending on health and welfare programs probably won't happen because the federal stimulus bill will include money for those programs in exchange for keeping them as they are.