Every year, the Legislature seems to struggle with the budget. There seems to always be a shortfall that needs to be fixed, with few options to solve the problem. They can either cut the budget for education or medical care, or they can raise taxes.
I think there is an easier and less painful way to solve the problem. I know the Legislature cannot redirect dedicated money to other areas to balance the budget, but I have not seen anything in our Constitution that would prevent departments from returning money to the state treasury.
If each department returned an average of 5 percent of its budget to the treasury, it would amount to over $1 billion. There is not one department that could not absorb a 5-percent cut. This could solve our budget problem for a couple of years and give the Legislature time to prepare for, and call, a constitutional convention to solve the problem permanently.
The state’s operating budget for the fiscal year that begins Friday is balanced for the time being.