We have a big budget surplus again, which brings out all the people with ideas on how to spend it. It’s $1.9 billion, and let’s just put that in context: If you stacked up $1.9 billion in $1 bills, it would probably fall over and blow away and most of it would land in Wisconsin. If you divided it up among every citizen, it would be about $350 per head, or $6 a week, which is less than some people spend on complex coffee drinks. So it seems rather obvious: The state should pick up our mocha lattes for a year.
Or, save it. Put it away for “a rainy day.” You know how you get up, look out the window, see it’s raining, and think “Man, how am I going to afford this rain”? Right. Meteorologists suggest the imminent El Niño could lead to rainy months, which sound ruinously costly. But you know we’ll probably spend it. Here are some ideas.
• Spend it all on lottery tickets! After all, the state tells us it’s a fun, exciting way to pick up some extra money. If they bought a billion cards and won $300 million, they could put the winning cards away in a lockbox in case of future deficits.
If that makes sense, you’re just who their lottery ads are aimed at.
• Convert the Green Line to high-speed rail. It’s too slow. When people get off in St. Paul, their cheeks should be still rippling from G-forces.
• Pay the Asian carp and the emerald ash borer to leave the state. Don’t laugh. Everyone has their price.
• Set it aside to construct the replacement for the new Vikings stadium. In 20 years, people will be complaining about U.S. Bank Stadium for reasons we cannot possibly anticipate — say, the game takes place in a gargantuan corporate skybox, and everyone watches the action on their phones in tailgating areas filled with self-driving cars, the beer delivered by drones. The new stadium will cover several acres, so the state should start buying up disused industrial land in Minneapolis before it gets turned into something boring like “housing” or “offices.
In order to make the expenditure seem like a “rainy day” investment, market the new stadium as a “multiseason Sports Umbrella.”