The state Legislature, according to a recently disclosed audit, has a surplus in its fund of $184 million, an amount unheard of in almost all other states.
That might be OK if the rest of the state budget was not several hundred million dollars in debt, leading to funding cuts in many human services programs over the past few years.
The surplus might be OK if there were rules governing its use and a policy on what the appropriate amount should be.
The surplus might make more sense if the Legislature didn't have a track record of abusing it, such as in 2005, when lawmakers used it to underwrite a generous raise for themselves.
We know the state purpose of the surplus. The Legislature's leaders say it protects the state in the event that the governor chokes over funding during a state budget stalemate.
If that's the case, then it should be rather easy to set down in writing a definitive policy for the use of the funds.
Without such a policy, the fund is there for discretionary use by a small committee of lawmakers to benefit them in ways that have little to do with the balance of power in state government. That's a kind way of saying it could be used as a political slush fund with the wrong people in charge of it.
This is, remember, taxpayer money.
And we are, remember, in the midst of very tough budget times, when many of the entities of the benefit from state funding are asked to make do with less.
Given that as a backdrop, the surplus strikes us as excessive and a certain way to put a pitchfork in an already badly wounded public trust in state government.