To the editor:

As soon as there’s an extra dollar lying around, someone invariably comes up with a way to spend it, even if it’s not their dollar to spend. Normally it’s a politician guilty of this transgression, but not always. Last week’s paper featured a letter stating unequivocally that our current $7.7 billion budget surplus must be spent on early education. We were told “a monkey with half a brain” could figure this out.

A quick search found that Minnesota spends on average a staggering 40% of the general fund on K-12 education. We spend another 7.5% on higher education. Combined, we spend over 47% of our general fund dollars on education. Every time there’s a referendum, the District 196 voters say yes, and every year the school levy on my property taxes goes up. There’s plenty of money. A half-brained monkey should be smart enough to figure out that spending isn’t the problem, yet there’s always someone clamoring for more. If only we would spend more, they say, this magical money would solve all of our education problems.

Yet, spending more and more never solves the problem, which is why before we throw even more money down this voracious, insatiable black hole we need a thorough accounting, an audit of where the money goes and why it’s not working. Every half-brained monkey knows the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting a different result.

The monkey, albeit half-brained, might also be smart enough to understand that budget surpluses are fickle, that the money is not firm, that it can fluctuate. It’s one time money, so coming up with new permanent expenditures with one-time money maybe isn’t the wisest thing, as this year’s surplus could become next year’s deficit. Then what? Raise our nation-leading taxes even more? Brilliant.

The bottom line is the state sets a budget and needs a certain amount to operate. If it collects $8 billion more than it needed it’s not a signal that it needs to spend more, it’s a sign something is amiss with the intake. Now that’s something a half-brained monkey should be able to comprehend.

John Morgan


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