Tim Pawlenty: "A" grade in fiscal responsibility

A blue-state governor with red-state qualities


In the four decades before Pawlenty was elected governor in 2002, the average two-year increase in state spending was 21 percent. During his tenure, the average annual increase has been 2 percent. He says that the current two-year budget cycle will be the first in 150 years in which spending will be cut in real, constant dollars.

It took, he said, "World War III" with the teachers unions to make Minnesota the first state to offer performance pay for teachers statewide. The state is second in the nation in health savings accounts: Approximately 10 percent of privately insured Minnesotans have these tax-preferred savings accounts that enable them to shop for routine health needs not covered by high-deductible insurance plans.

Pawlenty has benefited from an affliction -- Minnesota's Legislature. Currently, Republicans are outnumbered 47 to 87 in the House and 21 to 46 in the Senate. As a result, he has had, and has seized, ample opportunities to veto things, including increases in taxes on incomes, gasoline, beer and wine. He holds the Minnesota record for most vetoes cast in a single legislative session. The Cato Institute murmurs, "Be still my heart!"

A libertarian think tank ardent for government both limited and frugal, Cato gives A grades for fiscal responsibility to only four governors -- Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Pawlenty, the only one governing a blue state.

Comment: I don't know why governments need to grow at greater the rate of inflation! Pawlenty get's an A in my book too.

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