Other Opinion: Wanted: Creative ideas, compromise on state surplus


There's nothing quite as predictable in state government as the reactions of various political factions when a state budget surplus is announced.

Anyone familiar with these machinations could script the responses of party leaders to the news that Minnesota is projected to see a budget surplus of $1.3 billion in the 2020-21 biennium.

Keep in mind that the surplus is only a projection at this point. But already, Republican leaders have gone to their default position of "give it all back to the people," and DFL leaders have talked about using the surplus to shore up state infrastructure.

Frankly, as much as we know what to expect in these statements, like most Minnesotans, we do like some of what both sides are saying.

Yes, if the surplus materializes, some of it could go into tax cuts or rebates, once the state's obligations and reserve fund are taken care of. Meanwhile, there's no secret the state's infrastructure is in serious need of attention.


Maybe that's an oversimplification, but we think most Minnesotans are savvy enough to sort through the possibilities and separate political statements from reality.

The reality is most of us live in the middle ground between "give it all back" and "spend it all." If our personal household received a windfall, most of us would spend a portion of it on something we need and put the rest away for a rainy day.

So, rather than hear party leaders parrot the tired old statements, we'd be happy to listen to creative ways to weave the various options into one package. Of course, that would require compromise and working together -- qualities in short supply at all levels of government in recent times.

We urge the state's elected officials to remember that, as Gov. Tim Walz correctly noted, this surplus is in part the result of hard work by Minnesotans to build a robust economy. Now we'd like to see lawmakers work equally as hard at not squandering the surplus by either giving it all away or spending it all.

We urge them to give Minnesotans credit for being able to understand that there is more than one way to handle a budget surplus. Sit down at the table and exchange proposals. Make your arguments and negotiate. But don't forget that the people of Minnesota are more important than your political parties.

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