It seems we're broke. Who's we, you ask? Us. The state. We're facing a "Mega-Deficit," which was previously spotted battling Godzilla in a 1965 movie. Godzilla won, but only by using radioactive flame-breath, and experts say that option is not on the table.
Everything else is on the table, though. Including proposals to sell the table and just spread everything out on the floor. Revenues fell like a bowling ball rolled off the lip of the IDS roof, and we have to find a way to pay for all those incredibly stupid things you want and those invaluable necessary things I want. Unfortunately, we're not on the same page. There are three views of our situation:
1. We spend too much on dang-fool things, and we are overtaxed. We don't spend enough on dang-smart things, and we are undertaxed.
2. We spend just enough, and are taxed at the right level. Also, my porridge is juuuust right, and there's someone sleeping in my bed.
3. These are irreconcilable positions, which means no one will be happy with the end result. Except Goldilocks, who escaped to Arizona.
The state has a "rainy-day" fund, but it was not designed to deal with Biblical storms that dumped rain, sleet, hail, frogs, rocks and canned Spam on our heads. It's also a bit thin -- $153 million, one-tenth of the "recommended" amount. Remember that the next time the state issues guidelines about your recommended daily vegetables; apparently just looking at a carrot is sufficient, if we use their standards.
So it's a fire sale: Everything Must Go. What can be done?
Sell the Airport. I happen to love our airport, but apparently the state passed a Mandatory CNN Act at some point, and you can't read a book in the waiting area because someone is shouting about a flood in Arkansas or some pop musician who's left another grease stain on the public culture. I don't care who owns it, as long as they empty the trash and the planes don't bump into each other on the way out. I just hope the state owns it free and clear, because if we discover they took out a three-year no-interest no-doc adjustable rate mortgage, and now they can't make the payments because they blew the equity to build all the flat-screens that show CNN, there will be hell to pay. And we'd have to borrow more to pay hell. You don't want to owe hell. They have the worst collection agency.
Other than selling it, I don't know how you could extract more ad dollars out of the place, unless you want to spray a Target logo on everyone's face as they pass through the metal detectors.
Sell the Lottery. This would be utterly shortsighted. Play the lottery. I hear it's an excellent way to amass capital, and it goes to help the environment -- specifically, to pick up scratch-off cards people throw out the window. On a similar note, we could legalize gambling and build gigantic state-owned casinos, so we have something else to sell during the Panic of 2037.
We could have a spending freeze, as some have suggested. We could use the money from the new constitutional amendment that funds lakes and the arts, which would seem to defeat the point of having a constitutional amendment, but they could probably get around this by convening the Legislature in the Guthrie.
Maybe that might work. But they're only short-term fixes. We need bold, new solutions, like annexing North Dakota. They have natural resources aplenty, and the population density of Antarctica, even if you figure in penguins. Pushover. We have National Guard soldiers who've been to Iraq; I think Fargo would be an easier tour of duty. We would not only be bigger and richer, we would be the weirdest shaped state in the nation, and cement our stature as the state with the greatest number of old guys named Elmer.
We will be greeted as liberators! As a native North Dakotan, I am willing to head up the provisional government. As long as the per diem is fat, that is. And includes a trip back to the Cities every weekend.
It may be broke, but it's home.