The Grand Forks Herald editorial section nailed Gov. Tim Pawlenty for his unwillingness to put everything on the table to fix Minnesota’s budget problems, and they also get to the reason behind it all, political ambition. From the article:
The first difference is that the Democrats have declared their willingness to compromise. Pawlenty hasn’t. Just the opposite. Among the negotiating partners–the governor’s office, the Senate and the House — Pawlenty alone has assumed an all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave it stance, one in which he has planted his feet, folded his arms and declared, "No new taxes, period."
Why bother to have a Legislature if the governor can write and pass the budget himself? Especially when that governor’s party is in the minority, not the majority, in both the Senate and House.
The Governor has made it clear that he thinks that the negotiating bodies are on a "collision course", but that’s only true if Tim Pawlenty wants it to be. If he does, he’s out of step with a lot of Minnesotans. Of course, it would be easier to negotiate a compromise if the Governor’s budget wasn’t so irresponsible with its use of one-time money and dangerous borrowing proposals (which was just overwhelmingly defeated in the Minnesota State House). Again from the Grand Forks Herald:
The Democratic budgets, which blend tax hikes, spending cuts and federal stimulus income, balance the budgets not only for the upcoming two years but also beyond.
Pawlenty’s budget doesn’t. The governor proposes borrowing money in place of the Democrats’ tax hike. That means the deficit would disappear only temporarily; and when the candidates for governor campaign in 2010, they’d do so knowing that if they get elected, they’d face a $ 2.5 billion deficit right off the bat.
Pawlenty seems likely to be running for president, not governor, around then.
That really is the dirty little secret in all of this. Pawlenty’s political ambitions are putting us in a hole and endangering the future economic health of Minnesota. He needs to put all options on the table, including making our taxes fair and investing in Minnesota once again. Using all of the tools we have available is the only way we can get Minnesota working again, an absolutist stance to please the party faithful isn’t going to cut it.