Saturday, December 05, 2015

Our collective good fortune......or something.

Earlier this year, the state of Minnesota projected a near $1.9 billion budget surplus over the following two years. The extra haul was lauded by Little Lord Fauntleroy Gov. Mark Dayton as "our collective good fortune." I'm sorry, but I reject the notion that excess taxation of Minnesotans in uncertain economic times should be described as "good fortune."

This past week, it was announced the surplus is now projected to be $2 billion through 2017. After a legally required amount is stashed away for savings, that leaves nearly $1.2 billion to haggle over. Naturally the Republicans will want significant tax cuts and will hold firm on the "no gas tax" pledge (something which even Dayton concedes is "dead."). The DFL will of course look to increase spending in certain areas, particularly education. But as economist John Spry mentioned on the lesser Twin Cities conservative talk station Friday morning, a supposed one time infusion to start, say, Dayton's pet project of universal Pre-K will lead to an "ongoing obligation." Amazing how quickly any potential surpluses would disappear. Last I checked, this state hasn't been the most efficient when it comes to education spending.

With a shortened legislative session in 2016, it is likely that a transportation funding package will be discussed given one was not passed last session. Surprisingly there doesn't seem to be a lot of contentiousness over initial proposals.

House Republicans proposed dedicating the sales tax on auto parts, rental vehicles and motor vehicle sales to the highway fund -- an ongoing source of about $300 million per year.

Though DFLers resisted that idea at first, some have come around. Dayton on Thursday said he could accept it, as long as the amount of existing revenue dedicated to roads was not "so large as to jeopardize our future fiscal stability."

Now if we could just finally scrap MNSure.......


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