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Tuesday Talk: What’s the Pawlenty legacy?

December 21, 2010 By Rachel Weeks, Communications Specialist

As Governor Tim Pawlenty finishes off the last days of his term, we're looking back over the past eight years to see what worked and what didn't.

What were the most effective policies of the Pawlenty administration?

Subsequently, which policies were least effective at moving Minnesota forward?

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  • MALCOLM NLN says:

    December 21, 2010 at 9:09 am



    MALCOLM <>((:-)

  • Kevin Kooiker says:

    December 21, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Pawlenty’s legacy is the increased property taxes throughout the state along with decreased services, exemplified by the state’s inability to stay ahead of the snow. Minnesota used to be expert at handling snow. Now we have people from Chicago thinking that we’ve never seen the stuff before. Pawlenty is responsible for the cutback in number of trained snowplow drivers, as well as the cutback in the number of hours they work.

  • Clare Elmer Kapphahn says:

    December 21, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Pawlenty is the worst Govenor this state has ever had.  I certainly hope Pahln and Pawlenty run for Pre./Vice Pre. so we can vote them both out the the picture.

  • Jeremy Powers says:

    December 21, 2010 at 9:31 am

    His biggest legacy was his own ego. Almost everything he did was aimed at stepping up to the next level, not caring one whit for anyone else—not even his own party.

    The only “legacy” Pawlenty can claim is within the Department of Natural Resources area. He negotiated land for a new state park. His appointments to run the agency were his best. He started the Governor’s deer hunting opener.

    Almost everything else he turned to crap. If it hadn’t been for the minimalistic gas tax, transportation would have been a nightmare. Education, business, environment—he was just keeping the lights on. His budgets would be laughable if we didn’t have to deal with them now. And what he did for medical coverage for the poor should land him in prison for the rest of his days on a charge of unreasonable cruelty.

  • John Helgerson says:

    December 21, 2010 at 9:55 am

    A Pawlenty “legacy” is an oxymoron if there ever was one. Mr. Pawlenty engaged pawlwenty in the political arena but not so much in governing. Unfortunately for Minnesota, he veered sharply to ideology in his quest to gain the support of extreme conservatives. By focuisng almost solely on taxes, Mr. Pawlenty left a myriad of critical needs and key issues unresolved, and blew his opportunity to forge policies that could have improved matters for all Minnesotans.

  • KJC says:

    December 21, 2010 at 11:06 am

    The only upside I could find in the Pawlenty legacy?  The message that we can’t go on with “business as usual.”  Remember when he took a stand on drug costs and made a plan for importation from our lower-priced neighbor to north, Canada?  But that approach seems to have been dashed, no consumed, as the presidential ambitions took over.
    Leaving his legacy to be more like that of Reagan. Meaning? That he “taught” the public that there was “free lunch.”  Reagan’s promise of lowering taxes while simultaneously increasing revenue was utter fantasy… he nearly tripled the National Debt in his 8 years in office.  Up until then, this nation had been fairly responsible about deficits… his “leadership” ended that concept of discipline…that’s his legacy.  How have our great country’s finances gone since then?  I rest my case. 
    How does that apply to our soon-to-be ex-Governor?  His “no new taxes” agenda is similar kind of failed promise, that of an easy fix.  He’d say? I didn’t raise taxes.  We’d say?  Yes, you just forced others to do it for you, sir.  How? He cut local government aid.. and then let them make up for it by raising local taxes.  Add to that? Accounting shifts that have been used to create the pretense of a currently balanced budget… just long enough to get out of office.  A legacy that only Enron officer’s would still be defending?
    Yes, there is always a legacy, the lasting impact. In a democracy, a leader builds a consensus, that’s most fundamental to good governance.  When it comes time to make the tough choices… and that time is all over America now… that task isn’t made any easier.  So?  You really must keep everybody “at the table.”  Why?  It is possible to get a genuine agreement based on the concept of Shared Sacrifice, but that’s not possible in the “cuts for you but not for me” realm.  Why?  As soon as you give any group a free pass…then the real game is defined as becoming one of Those Most Favored Groups, with their “avoid their own share” status.  You could surely hear in the rhetoric of the last couple elections here.
    Pawlenty’s campaign slogan of “No New Taxes” was enough to get him elected in a three way race.  It was also exactly that kind of “free pass” pledge that was doomed to fail when carried into governance.  It aimed squarely at the protecting the best off, the “Haves.”  This arrogance sealed the fate of our governor’s legacy, it could only have been a net decline.  Sad, as we will all pay with him. 
    Even more sad? Why? Rather than learning one of the most basic lessons in the fundamentals of Public Leadership… instead he seems to intend to roll out this failed plan for the whole country?  Happy Holidays.

  • Tony Rozycki says:

    December 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    My short answer is that it’s too soon to tell.

  • Sheila Martin says:

    December 21, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Well put and to the point, KJC!

  • Ginny says:

    December 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Legacy? The huge debt that’s coming down on our new governor and legislature, product of the “no new taxes” rigidity of our former governor—who was beholden not so much to ideology as to business.
    He was intractable and refused several times to talk to the DFL members when invited, making sarcastic and demeaning remarks about their attempts.
    He’s not just our worst governor; he’s mean.

  • John Crampton says:

    December 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Worst Governor we ever had…. vicious, despicable, enemy of the ordinary people and implacable foe of the working class from which he was hatched. 

    Which means he’s just perfect for the Republican Party and all its tea party toadies who dance to the party line laid down by Ronnie Reagan, Grover Norquist, and Rupert Murdoch.

  • Bernie Bauhof says:

    December 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Governor Pawlenty held firm to his conservative economic philosophy that unchecked growth in state government was not sustainable. He was correct. States across this country are in crisis due to their free spending ways and irresponsible money management. The era of big government is over. Not because conservatives say so but because we have simply run out of money. And in spite of the strident criticism of Pawlenty and his policies from the left wing bomb throwers Minnesota remains a national leader in education outcomes. We are also leaders in environmental protection and renewable energy. The jobless rate and the recent rate of job creation exceed those of most states. Because of his fiscal conservatism and in spite of difficult economic conditions Minnesota has maintained the highest bond rating from Standard & Poors. Governor Pawlenty changed the direction of the state when that change was needed most; and there is no going back.

  • Dave Hajicek says:

    December 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Besides all the manipulations that have been mentioned, Pawlenty allowed the 35W bridge to collapse.
    He did this by not funding repairs that were recommended (the infamous gusset plates that failed).
    It was known for two years that the bridge was in the process of failing.  Pawlenty’s response was typical.  Fund a cosmetic fix, but do not fix the basic structure.  He hoped it wouldn’t fail under his watch.  But the gamble didn’t work.  He needs to be held personally responsible for his decisions.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Gov. Pawlenty educated people, who were willing to understand & accept the facts, that our state budget was unsustainable and that we needed to reduce the growth in state spending.

    The facts are there was only growth in state spending during Gov. Pawlenty’s two terms; there was never any cuts to the overall state budget. We need to thank Gov. Pawlenty for reducing growth in state spending. In fact, there is no budget crisis. Our state budget can grow 5% and match the projected revenue growth.

    Look up the facts and you will confirm the 5% growth in our budget.

  • Mary Ann says:

    December 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Worst Governor ever!  He really ruined the state.  His comments in the Wall Street Journal belittling public employees is the worst and all his facts were not correct.

  • William Pappas says:

    December 22, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Because I have trouble finding any positive, effective and successful Pawlenty legislation I’ll simply draw attention to the growing ineffectiveness of his administration and failure to create any legislative initiatives other than the complete destruction of the government of the State of Minnesota.  Contrast Obama’s efforts to craft majorities to pass significant legislation and his willingness to comprimise and negotiate in good faith with all parties.  Add Obama’s rejection of incendiary rhetoric and you have the perfect antidote to Pawlenty’s ideologically rigid, take no prisoners, unwilling to bend radical conservative politics that force all parties to entrench in their usual demagoguery.  Pawlenty was willing to subvert the interests of Minnesotans to his budgetary politics.  Appointing Molnau to head MNDOT to help him hide the defunding of transportation that was necessary to support his “no new taxes” position was breathtaking in its disregard of professionalism and competant, efficient government.  The resulting disasters with “inhouse” inspections that failed to catch the failing 35W structural defects, the Crosstown bidding debacle that delayed construction two years and the engineering and management fiasco that stretched the Wakota Bridge construction nearly a decade impacted millions of Minnesotans every week.  His failure to understand the core mission of state government which is to serve the interests of the people rather than advance his own narrow political and personal agenda was perhaps his most tragic and destructive flaw.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 22, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Public worker pensions & health insurance are bankrupting California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, etc. Gov. Pawlenty was merely trying to educate idiots like you. However, he can only “lead you to the water”!

  • Bernie Bauhof says:

    December 22, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Mike, I am so with you, except for the personal attacks. I am sure you have heard the phrase made famous by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry indicating what opinions are like, and that everybody has one. There will always be some folks who are just compelled to store those opinions in that similarity which we all share, and speak through it as well. The facts are the facts and whether folks believe them is not relevant to the discussion.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 22, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    It is all too easy to become frustrated with people who have emotion based opinions that are not fact and data driven.

    You are correct. I have become all too impatient in my old age where life is too short to beat around the bush.

  • Mark says:

    December 28, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Job creation has to be the number one priority.  Through job creation and decreasing the percentage of unemployed, we will see our deficits reduce.  As more enter the workforce, we will see more payroll taxes for all levels.  We must create sustainable jobs that will see our generations through their lives.  We must also work towards development of alternatives to oil.  Economists are already saying we will have $5 per gallon gas in 2012.  We must improve median wage stagnation issues as well.  But perhaps all could be addressed with job creation.  Bringing back taxes on upper levels to pre Reagan levels to create an equitable distribution of wealth, so that a viable strong middle economic class returns.  “We all do better, when we all do better” : Senator Paul Wellstone

  • Tony Carducci says:

    January 4, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Having finally left office, Pawlenty left Minnesotans with the sensation of being in the aftermath of violent storm.
    His leadership style of divisive and caustic language has created neighbor on neighbor hatred.
    His reckless experiment with trickle-down economics has destroyed many working class budgets in the form of lower wages, higher property taxes, ridiculous tuition rates and neglected infrastructure.
    Unfortunately, his legacy will be seen in the ensuing years. Teachers, cops and health-care proffessionals will be eliminated in droves, so Terrible Tim can sell himself to Wall Street and the Republican elites.

    He makes me sick. We will be picking up after Hurricane Tim for many years.

  • Dan C says:

    February 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Well, Tim can proudly say he destroyed a state’s proud heritage as a national leader in education and taking care of the less fortunate among us.  What aided him in doing this?  First, his national Republican views just made a lot more of us poor.  Then, he lavishly added to the wealth of the rich and protected their wealth.  He made selfishness and greed great MInnesota values.  He made it a virtue to increase wealth and fortunes, no matter who and how many others are hurt.  Then, you throw the increased number of poor under a bus, save only those they need for shoeshine people.

    Look how well it has worked for the State of Minnesota?  We have slipped into obscurity in education and quality of life.  They have converted the weaker minds to believe that it is taxes that determine the quality of life.  They point ot wonderful examples of their success like Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and other meteoric economic states - ha-ha.  Tim emulates such fine patriots as David and Charles Koch…yes captains of the me, me crowd.  As a prior Presidential candidate said about the great “sucking sound from the South….”  It is the rich sucking the life blood out of our country for their purely selfish and greedy reasons.  It is to hell with patriotism.  It is getting the weak-minded poor to offer up their children to fight their frivolous wars.  Certainly, we wouldn’t expect the priveleged class to dirty their hands at the tough work defending our democracy…What democracy?