Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

What should state do with “other people's money”?

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Greg Peck
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

 I got a chuckle out of the words of state Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, in today's Gazette. The state is projecting a budget surplus of about $1 billion, and August is all for the tax relief plans that Gov. Scott Walker is expected to outline tonight in his fourth annual State of the State address.

“I think it is the people's money, and we should send it back to them,” August said. The money must leave Madison ASAP because, August said, “culture up here is if we find some quarters in the couch, everyone wants to spend them right away.”

That comment reminds me of a movie. Maybe you've seen the 1991 flick appropriately titled “Other People's Money” and starring Danny DeVito as the despicable Lawrence “Larry the Liquidator” Garfield. (Side note: My late namesake, Gregory Peck, also stars)

“I love money more than I love the things it can buy,” Garfield says. “…Money, it don't care whether I'm good or not. It don't care whether I snore or not. It don't care which god I pray to. There are only three things in this world with that kind of unconditional acceptance: dogs, doughnuts and money. Only money is better. You know why? Because it don't make you fat and it don't poop all over the living room floor. There's only one thing I like better. Other people's money.”

Setting aside the grammatical gaffes, Garfield sounds like the consummate politician, doesn't he? He loves to spend other people's money.

Should the state give half of the projected surplus back to residents in the form of tax cuts, as Walker reportedly will suggest? Should it invest more in education, as many Democrats propose? Should it spend more of it in transportation funding, put more in reserves or halt its habits of increasingly borrowing more money and using accounting tricks to “balance” its budget?

What else would you like to hear from Walker tonight?

In our editorial Thursday, The Gazette's editorial board will share its views on sensible uses for the projected surplus.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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