Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Note to TPaw: Chances at redemption are scarce 

Craig Westover makes the point about the governor's foolish cigarette tax proposal:
...the proposal comes with conditions. Pawlenty insists that the Legislature pass two of the following measures: initiative and referendum; meaningful school choice; a ban on teacher strikes during the school year; and a tribal/racino partnership.

Only politicians and members of the education establishment could view this proposal as anything but obscene treatment of children from low-income families, and yet ironically, it is proposing "meaningful" school choice as the backside of a political power play that endorses its criticality to the future of children in Minnesota.
Westover correctly rips the governor's plan to help school choice, an education tax credit for businesses, with those that go directly to students, such as the Hann-Buesgens or Knoblach-Ortmann plans. Those have withered on the vine, Westover says, because the governor and Commissioner Seagren have not invested time and resources to the effort. And, he concludes, Pawlenty might need a bigger victory in school choice now.
Elevating meaningful school choice to a priority in its own right is not just the morally right thing to do; politically, it allows the governor some wiggle room behind the scenes to maneuver his way out of the self-inflicted "fee" versus "tax" issue. Pawlenty has shown the bluster to kick open the door to educational opportunity; it remains to be seen if he also has the courage to walk through it.
As Republicans search for leaders that actually have courage, it might be a good time for Pawlenty to step up.