Wednesday, February 13, 2008

State of the state in St. Cloud 

Well that was fun! Governor Tim Pawlenty came to St. Cloud to give the State of the State address, which Larry Schumacher found to be rather combative in tone.

State media folks are saying this sounds like a speech from a guy who hopes he's not going to be governor for much longer.

Locals who were expecting some kind of announcement regarding St. Cloud are walking out scratching their heads and asking why he came here.

Republicans looking for a good, partisan fight against the DFL are maybe the happiest people in the room today.

I'm a bit surprised by the editorial comments expressed by "state media folks". Don't they just report the news any more?

Also, within the speech, Larry notes many compliments made about St. Cloud businesses and organizations. He also paid tribute and a standing ovation was given to former mayor Al Loehr, which was certainly worthwhile. I find it interesting that the only reason someone would think the Governor would deliver a speech outside of the capital was to deliver goodies. I heard nobody as I left the speech expressing what Larry suggests.

Governor Pawlenty did at one point take out his taxpayer protection pen, by which he meant his veto pen. From the speech:
As we tackle the deficit, we must remember that Minnesota's hardworking familes are already squeezed enough. They're paying more for gas, food, and health care. The last thing they need is government rummaging around in their pockets looking for more. Government must learn to live within their means. We should not add to the burden of Minnesota families by raising their taxes.

Moreover, the well-being of the people we serve depends on their ability to have good-paying jobs. That, in turn, depends upon the willingness of companies to invest, stay, and grow in Minnesota. However, Minnesota's tax policies, job climate, and large government discourage economic growth.

We need to reduce taxes and regulations that discourage job growth, income generation, investment, entrepreneurial activity, research and exports. We'll need to do that in a manner that also leaves us with a stable state budget.

Our current tax system reflrects the economy and demographics of the 1960s. It's outdated and needs to be fixed.
I would have hoped for more ideas than a tax reform commission that Pawlenty called for, but
it shows a commitment to reducing the cost of doing business in Minnesota. He also called for a cap on property taxes, about which I have mixed feelings but would like to hear more about, as it pertains to Minnesota.

I was sitting next to someone heavily involved in regional transportation issues, and he had said Pawlenty would say nothing about transportation. I was sure that, after the DFL's announcement of plans last night (covered by Gary Gross) that there would be something. I should have bet my friend.
Just a few weeks ago, I announced my bonding proposal that includes four times more funding for local roads and bridges than ever before.

I would caution legislators not to delete this important funding from the bill to insert less important projects.
My friend had suggested before the speech that the governor had made the transportation lobby a new ally in the U of M and MnSCU systems, who want the DFL to pull transportation out of the bonding bill to make room for more of their projects. (I had suggested just that last month.) No such offer appears forthcoming from Governor Pawlenty.

I think the DFL got the message:

The governor's address drew a tepid reaction from DFL leaders. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said she was disappointed that deficits and a way to jump-start the state's economy were not featured.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, said she thought that there was "a lack of vision" in the speech and that "the veto threats were not very productive."

Depends on what you're trying to produce there, Senator. Could it be ... pork? Could it be ... favors for your block of voters and contributors? Not sure why you'd think the governor would have a vision for that.

The governor thinks lower taxes is a winner. The DFL thinks taxes for roads and bridges is a winner. This should be a fun session.

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