Here is what seems to be a recovering economy, the state of Minnesota will be sporting a healthy 1.9 billion dollar surplus.  That is good news – at least in the fact that not so long ago, Minnesota was in a pretty large deficit.  First, some history.


Back in 1999, the state returned a tax surplus of 1.2 billion dollars (https://www.google.com/#q=minnesota+surplus+1999) in a form of a check sent to families in the state.  According to this article, that check ranged from $203 to as much as $2000.

In the first decade of this century, Minnesota faced deficits of 1.9 billion in 2003 and 1.2 billion in 2005.  (http://www.mnbudgetproject.org/research-analysis/minnesota-budget/proposals-budget-outcomes/options-to-address-2002-03-deficit.pdf)

Steps were taken in these years to address that deficit, including raising revenue, cutting costs, and using reserves.

And now in 2015, Minnesota is looking at a 1.9 billion surplus.  Do we copy the Ventura years and return this money in a check to families?  The state Republican Party is airing ads that support this idea.  It has been done before, it could be done again.  I wonder how much this costs to do … back in 1999, the state spent a great deal of money (I wish I knew how much) on sending out a letter saying that a check was coming, and then sending out the money in a separate mailing.  Then there’s the cost of printing all the checks and determining how much each family should receive.  It’s a pretty labor intensive act as well, taking a good many work hours to accomplish the task.  I repeat, it could be done.

But now, here’s a thought.

When we had those nearly equally deficits, the call was that we cannot leave these deficits to our grandchildren.  That comment was heard often also at the national level, as our federal government faces its own deficit.   I agree – it is horrible to think that we’ll leave such a deficit to our kids and their kids.

Leaving such a thing to our kids.  How nasty.  How ugly.  How burdensome for them.

I submit that there is an equally nasty thing out there that we cannot afford to leave to our kids and their kids, and that is our crumbling infrastructure.

Remember the 1950s, how the generation before us created and built our interstate system?  Hasn’t that been a blessing to us?  Wouldn’t it be nice to do the same for our kids coming after us?

The surplus in Minnesota should be applied to repairing our infrastructure as much as we can.  I am no expert in the costs, but 2 billion dollars could go a long way in repairing or replacing our bridges, roads, water and sewer systems.  Let us not forget, too, our public buildings like city offices, schools, libraries, fire stations and police stations.

Should all of this surplus go to restoring our infrastructure?  IN all practicality, that probably wouldn’t happen.  There are other concerns about restoring programs that got cut back in those deficit years.  Yet, I would like to see a majority of this surplus go to the infrastructure.  All that is in the hands of the state legislature.


So here’s the deal.  If it was important enough to consider our kids when we had a deficit, we should also consider them as regards our infrastructure.   Let’s address the surplus in the same way we addressed those deficits – address it with our kids in mind.