WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --      The Minnesota State Legislature has found itself in an unusual position — it seems they collected too much money from the taxpayers last year. For what ever reason, the state has found it has a one point two billion dollar surplus.

    Did we get billed too much or did the state not spend enough? If you are conservative you would probably say we got billed too much. If you lean to the liberal side you might think cuts in social programs went too far. For the most part I suspect there was a little of both.

    I find it hard to argue we got billed too much, I feel it is a result of an improving economy, more people working, more people spending and more people paying taxes. After all,  for most tax payers, the rate has not changed that much, and in some cases the rates have decreased. Did anybody really miss  the few extra dollars they paid in?  I certainly didn’t, I would have to go back to our 2012 tax return to really tell.

    Well there are some people that feel the surplus should be given back in its entirety. However they seem to have short memories, ala—Jesse Ventura!

That turned out to be the beginning of seven years of budget shortfalls. Some of these same people claim they could spend the money better than the government. I am not so sure, if  spending better means a bigger TV, or the latest gaming system, or perhaps a little more at the casinos, maybe putting it into your 401k might be better. But for the most part most of us would not actually spend it wiser than our government. That’s not saying the government does it right all the time.

    Personally if I were making the decisions I would set aside a portion of the money in a rainy day fund. The rest I would put in infrastructure. We have profound needs to improve our rural roads and other areas of infrastructure. A large percentage of the bridges in the state are nearing the end of their expected safe use periods. Taking care of some of this now would save money in the long term.

    Everyone knows if you build or repair something today, it will likely be much cheaper than doing it years down the road. In our health care system it is proven that taking preventative measures now can save a great deal of money over  the long run and it can enhance our long term health.

    If I had a crystal ball, I would venture to say in reality, the Legislature will likely give back a sizable portion to the taxpayers, and perhaps put some into a rainy day fund, and if there is any left after that, spend it foolishly.No matter how you slice it, there will never be enough money to cover all the needs of the state.

    Have a great week and do good!