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Minnesota Burns Future Tobacco Cash for Immediate Budget Fix

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota’s government is about to give up $1.1 billion in future payments from tobacco companies so it can get about half as much money now for a temporary budget fix.

Late next week, a newly created state authority expects to finalize a sale of bonds leveraging a portion of its 1998 tobacco lawsuit settlement. The sale will free up $640 million to patch a near-term budget hole. But it will deprive the state of a revenue stream, making for future budget headaches.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP-led Legislature agreed to borrow against the tobacco money to stave off tax increases or additional spending cuts.

The state will face between $65 million and $80 million per year in debt costs.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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