Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Does One Do With A $50 Million Budget Surplus?

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader opened their July 16th story with a similar question.  There seem to be three answers.

First one can be blatantly political. The Dakota War College quickly trumpets the idea that the surplus means that the sales tax initiative should be defeated:
Does anyone wonder why exactly some would be pushing for a 1 cent sales tax increase when our state is coming up with $50 million budget surplus? Your thoughts are as good as mine. Somebody must like to spend money. . . .

The recent budget surplus indicates that amount is obviously not ”necessary,” Since our state is sitting on $50 million extra. Education and health care providers just need better lobbyists. Why would I as as citizen vote to pay another penny in sales tax when our state is flush with cash?
 Expect that talking point to become a drum beat over the next few months.

One can also be political and hopelessly naive.  South Dakota Education Association spokesperson Bryce Healy "said the budget surplus is 'good news for everybody.'” The Argus Leader reports:
“SDEA hopes our state leaders will look into investing those resources in our education system and not just putting them into reserves,” Healy said. “These dollars would help, but we still have a long way to go in education funding to get us back to the levels where we need to be.”
I'll let the attitudes and laughter from the following commercial provide my response to Healy's naivete.
The Press and Dakotan has the most believable outcome:
If history serves as a template, we will instead probably hear about uncertain times, the need for restraint and, of course, the obligatory IOUs from lawmakers that the money that has been or will be cut or unspent now will find its way back to our schools, our roads and our social programs ... some day.
"Some day" a prince will come, and the sun will come out tomorrow, and if everyone claps Tinkerbell will live

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