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Another Day, Another Budget Gimmick.

While Governor Pawlenty criss-crosses the state calling for a state hiring freeze and proposing a budget which includes cuts to state agencies services, he’s using budget gimmicks to make his office budget look smaller than it really is.

From the Star Tribune:

Pawlenty’s office pays $30,000 of [Pawlenty aide Josh] Gackle’s $72,000-a-year salary. The rest is covered by seven state agencies he monitors for the governor.

Uniquely in state government, Pawlenty’s office can transfer the costs of some of his staff to other areas of the state budget. At least five employees from Pawlenty’s office have their salaries partly paid by state agencies, reducing his office budget.

Governor Pawlenty, while calling for a 5% across-the-board budget cut for state agencies, is diverting even more funds from the agencies by requiring them to pay salary for his staff.

The Governor’s use of agency budgets to pay for his office’s expenses doesn’t stop with staff salaries.  The $7,000 bill for his trade mission to Israel was paid for by the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

A Pawlenty spokesman defended the practice, saying it "allow[s] agencies to share work and resources and improve communication with the governor’s office."  They’re right–cost-sharing among state agencies makes sense where work and jurisdictions overlap.  The problems with Pawlenty’s scheme is that some of these employees have desks in–and work exclusively out of–the governor’s office.

Governor Pawlenty touts his office’s ability to get more done with less staff and with a smaller budget, which is a misnomer considering that the expense for the Governor’s staff and trips are being hidden by these accounting shifts.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Marcn

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