Monday, August 27, 2007

Do we need a special session? 

After Michael got off the air on his view that we should not be afraid of a special session, The Lady Logician struck back.
First off, we are echoing the sentiments of our friends and neighbors who just watched this Legislature fritter away a $2.2 BILLION DOLLAR budget surplus on"optional" expendatures [sic] --none of which was scheduled to go toward bridges and roads. Money went to just about everything else.
OK, but that was then and this is now. Priorities respond to circumstances. I agree as well with Gary that the DFL looked at transportation issues and saw only gas-tax-increase; what I don't agree with is that this is a reason to do nothing now.

I have a roof on my house. I look at it in spring and say, "it appears OK, it should be fine for another year," and I don't call the roofing company. After the tornado passes through and my roof fails because I didn't replace it (assume it would have been fine if I had replaced it in spring), do I not get to collect on my insurance to pay for a new roof? Do I not get to change priorities?
Second - the money is already there for use not only for the bridge but for the flood zones. Drew Emmer at Wright County Republican has the breakdown of the emergency funding access that the Governor has.
He has the power to get the money now, certainly, but that doesn't mean there wouldn't be a tax called for to pay for it later. It is my preference to have a regular session later and have all spending and tax options available, and a little more information about the 2008-09 biennium. I would prefer to wait. But you can read the July budget forecast which says the outlook for the economy is slightly weakening, and then look at the subprime/credit crisis, and argue that at some point we might need the rainy day fund for general obligations of the budget. Yes, they may have spent too much in May, but that's a sunk cost now. The alternative, of course, is unallotment after the emergency spending; for both political and economic reasons, that's an unattractive alternative.
Lastly, as Representative Seifert stated after the bridge collapse, the latest budget forecast shows an even bigger surplus than we had previously expected. The final numbers are due in November.
Tell you what, LL, let's have a bet. You can take the side that we'll have a bigger surplus in November than projected in July. I'll take the under. If the Global Insights weighted forecast (which the state uses for budget forecasting) had 20% on the pessimistic scenario in July, you don't think it'll be less in November, now, do you?

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