When North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven briefed legislators Monday on the state's budget outlook, he delivered the grim news that revenue projections had slumped by more than $38 million since the last two-year look ahead.

Well, grim is a relative term: North Dakota's budget still is on track to be comfortably in the black, one of only a few states in the nation where that's still the case. By the end of the two-year budget cycle, the state is expected to still have a surplus of nearly $64 million.

The state's finances have been buoyed, even as the recession has plunged into its second year, by healthy tax receipts from the oil and farm commodity industries (though those have begun to decline in recent months).

By comparison, Minnesota's lawmakers are staring into a financial abyss.