The state of MN announced today that they will have an$800 million surplus. I heard the news today on the radio which played a clip from Amy Koch (Senate leader) making the announcement. Apparently, according to Ms. Koch, the state is required to place the funds in a ‘rainy-day’ fund. However, that has not stopped the usual parasites lining up to get their hands on the excess funds. The news story also talked about cries from education, environmental, and other areas that want their share of the funds because they have had to make sacrifices to balance the budgets in prior years.
Despite the requirement to place the funds in the reserve fund, I could not help think about a story from Ronald Reagan: one year when Reagan was govenor of California, he had learned from his finance person that the state of California will have a surplus. The news had not yet hit the legislature or the press, so Reagan proceeded to announce it himself and he added that refund checks will be going out to taxpayers. Upon hearing this news, a Democrat legislative leader told the govenor that issuing refund checks would be a misuse of public funds. But, Govenor Reagan scored a big win for the state and the taxpayers of California.
I bring this story up because I sometimes wonder if our Republican friends in the legislature even think about how to operate politically. Understanding that the state will put the money aside, what a win this could have been had the Republican legislative leaders ran to the microphone and announced a refund of the surplus. Besides, think about this: because the state obtained a surplus, does that mean they over-charged (over-taxed) the taxpayer? If a business over-charges its customers (or engages in price-gouging), they are attacked. However, this is no surprise from an institution (government) that engages in price gouging routinely. Colleges charge outrageous prices for attendance at their institutions and no one bats an eye. So, no real surprise that they would not refund surplus dollars they received from over-taxing the Minnesota taxpayer.
The legislature should reconsider repealing the requirement to put surplus dollars aside in a reserve fund. The money belongs to the taxpayer. They deserve to have it refunded to them.