Tim Pawlenty's state of the state: Let the spin begin
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's final state of the state speech -- in which he characterized the state's red ink as an "epic crisis" -- was barely over before Democrats seeking his office took to the Internet offering instapunditry.
Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza and Paul Thissen were the first out of the gate. Here are some snippets:
Governor Pawlenty owes the people of Minnesota an apology for abandoning them during this very difficult time to pursue his far-fetched presidential ambitions. There are over 217,000 Minnesotans without jobs, and he doesn't want the one he has. The difference is that many unemployed Minnesotans are in danger of losing their small unemployment checks, while Governor Pawlenty is assured of his salary for the entire year and a taxpayer-funded mansion to live in, whether he does his job or not.
I have driven through 32 Minnesota counties during the past 22 days, and the state of our state concerns me, as it concerns the Minnesotans I'm meeting with along the way. In addition to serious unemployment, Governor Pawlenty's financial mismanagement has left a trail of broken promises with school districts, cities, counties, and townships.
They have managed their financial affairs responsibly; he has not. Yet, they are being forced to pay the price for his fiscal folly. Euphemisms like "withholding," "shifts," "unallotment," and forced "borrowing" disguise the harsh facts: the State of Minnesota is broke under Tim Pawlenty's failed leadership, cannot pay its bills on time, and cannot keep its financial promises to local governments. Minnesota's towns and cities depend upon those promises to provide essential services, like police and fire protection, snow plowing, road salting and sanding, which protect the lives of Minnesotans.
With joblessness rising and Minnesota's credit rating in peril, the governor is doing same-old, same-old - not presenting the new ideas we need.
He talked today about facing challenges. We certainly do face them. And we have overcome them in the past - but we've overcome them because we've had leaders with vision.
Yesterday, we learned that a top credit ratings agency had lowered the outlook for Minnesota's credit from stable to negative, in large part because our leaders have spent our savings on short-term fixes instead of ensuring our long-term success. Because of the lack of leadership in St. Paul, we are now hamstrung; we're less able to do things that will enable us to grow jobs.
No vision, no real ideas for how to make Minnesota work again. That sums up the state of the state under our current leadership."
I agree we must slow the growth of spending by spending smarter. I agree we must create jobs. I agree we must maintain funding levels for education. I agree we must cap the unsustainable rate of property tax increases.
But, I don't agree with the governor's path.
His proposals to cut are just as predictable as the legislature's reaction to his speech. Governor Pawlenty's priorities are clear but he consistently misses the point.
Health care isn't about insurance, it's about care. We can't create just any job. We need to create good paying jobs; jobs that deliver meaningful income that allow individuals and families to contribute to our economy, not just get by.
We can't just keep education funding levels flat, we must invest. Minnesotans have already felt the pain of Governor Pawlenty's cuts. And he promises more with his budget on Monday.
We need a governor that is going to find creative ways to ease the pain to his constituents, not further the burden by eliminating programs and cutting deals with corporations.