As state tax revenue climbs nationwide, Minnesota finds itself with a $1.9 billion surplus—and a growing political fight about what to do with it.
Republicans are pushing for tax cuts and using surplus funds to fix roads and bridges, while blocking calls for an increase in the state gasoline tax.
Democrats talk about expanding early-childhood education programs and increasing spending on rural broad-band service, while discussing some targeted tax cuts.
Budget Surplus Prompts Tussles in Minnesota, Wall Street Journal 12-7-15
Here is a concise illustration of the difference between left and right and also the tendency for the naive left to get us into fiscal trouble.
A budget surplus is a fleeting thing with no guarantee of being available in the future. It’s similar to a one-time grant from the federal government. When you have such a surplus the prudent thing to do is save some for a rainy day which Minnesota has done and then when you do spend, spend it in non-recurring needs certainly not on establishing new ongoing commitments that create new and likely permanent liabilities. That is how you get into fiscal trouble.
In the case of the above example, Republicans want to fix roads and presumably in the process generate work and some jobs.
While the Democrats ideas have may be desirable, they appear to do little in the way of economic stimulation and at the same time create ongoing programs with no permanent funding. It’s like using a bonus to put a down payment on a car that requires five-years of monthly payments that you could not afford before or after receiving the bonus.