Heel Sviggy! Now, Go Fetch!

Yeah, they are members of the same party and everything, but has there ever been a speaker of the house more slavishly devoted to a governor than Steve Sviggum has been toward Tim Pawlenty?

Last night Pawlenty implored legislators to vote. It wasn't specific by the news clips what exactly he wanted them to vote on, but we'd guess it wasn't the income tax increase the senate already passed, or the transportation bill bipartisan majorities already approved in both the house and the senate, subsequently vetoed by Pawlenty. We'd guess the Guv wanted legislators to vote on the racino proposal that never made it out of committee in either the house or the senate but is now the centerpiece of Pawlenty's plan to resolve the budget stalemate without raising taxes.

This morning, Sviggum dutifully seconded Pawlenty's motion, saying, "We're elected to vote. I think that's a basic requirement and a request from Gov. Pawlenty that should be heeded by the House and the Senate." Has there ever been a request by Gov. Pawlenty that Sviggum hasn't wagged his tail at and pledged to try and heed?

Sviggum's willingness to cede his authority over to Pawlenty catches newcomers to the state by surprise. Check out this comment from an online discussion on the Minnesota Public Radio website regarding the government shutdown:

I am a little confused about the role the Governor has in all of this. I have been visiting family in MN for years, but I am new to MN politics.

I don't expect the Governor to be disinterested in the budget, but under the separation of powers it is the legislature's job to legislate, and the Governor's job to execute that legislation. Yes, he has veto power. No, he doesn't have to sign the budget into law. But it is patently NOT the Governor's job to WRITE the budget. Why is he such a key figure in all of this?

I mean at least if he VETOED the budget, he'd be doing his job and everyone would know how to place the praise/blame. They could look at the finished budget and say "yes he should have signed it" or "no, he shouldn't have" and vote accordingly.

It isn't his job to be cutting deals, hashing numbers, and inviting Democratic leaders to Camp Ripley. That is for the members of the House and Senate to do with one another.

The reason for having separation of powers is to prevent the people who are in charge from writing the rules they play by. That is considered too much power in one department.

What is going on here? Has the Governor always played this type of role in the budget-making process her in MN?
By karlar13 on 7/1/05 at 12:34 PM

Or, as House Transportation Chair Ron Erhardt (R-Edina) put it more succinctly three weeks ago in the Star Tribune: "House Speaker Steve Sviggum should act as if he has a vision for the entire state rather than just playing handmaiden to the governor."



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