Spending the Surplus
Well, ole Brummett had a good mental exercise going on in his column today. He "spent" the $840 million surplus in 20 column inches. That is a lot of taxpayer earnings per word. I lack his audacity, but I thought I'd play along as well.
Let's see, Brummett says we should spend $350 million of the $840 million complying with the court's orders for school facilities improvements from the Lakeview case. I have a more modest amount in mind for the time being.
My plan is to set aside two million to pay for the impeachment trials of four of the seven state supreme court "justices" who are most determined to usurp the authority of the other two branches of government. I realize we would need a constitutional amendment to allow the ledge to impeach them, but we can submit that to the electorate for no extra charge. I'd defer any major outlay increases for public schools until 1)We figure out which branch of government is supposed to determine how much is spent and for what, and 2) we start fixing the things that can be fixed without money. Like classroom discipline.
Brummett wants to set $240 million aside in an emergency fund that would give us some cushion for any shortfalls caused by a sales-tax cut on food. I like the idea of a cushion, it sounds prudent, but that amount is equal to the ENTIRE sales tax amount on food for a year. He suggests going along with Beebe's plan to cut it in half. I'd cut it all, and leave the reserve the same. Actually, let's make it an even 250 million and get rid of the absurd retail sales tax on energy used for manufacturing. That one will pay for itself by generating more economic activity.
Brummett also thinks we should fork over another 168 million dollars to the state's higher ed system. That is in addition to the 150 million dollars they just got in loans by a vote of the people. As you might suspect, my attitude is if they wanted $318 million from us they should have asked for that amount in the election we just had. They asked for and just got permission for an extra $150 million, so no surplus soup for you Higher Ed!
Brummett also want to let Governor-elect Beebe have his 50 million dollar slush fund to pick winners and loses as far as businesses go. I prefer to leave that to the free market, so no surplus soup for the Gov. elect either. Brummett also says we have 30 million in bond dect obligations, but I don't know why that has to come out of the surplus, it is supposed to come out of the operating budget and that is where I'd take it from.
Brummett may have tried that sleight of hand to get the GIF money pork down to two million dollars. I'm OK with that low amount.
So that's how Brummett spent the whole wad of $840 million. I seem to be having some trouble spending that much money that I know I did not earn. It is from the labor of others. I seem to have spent only $254 million, $250 million of that to allow room for tax cuts. What should I do with the remaining almost $600 million dollars? Well, maybe I am just one man and shouldn't decide how to spend $600 million dollars that has been earned by my fellow citizens. I think I should just tell all those special interests with their hands out to blow it out their ears. I'd declare a dividend of $500 per tax return and/or raise the personal exemption amounts to more reasonable levels.