Monday, May 23, 2011

THE PRESIDENCY: A BIT SHORT IS PAWLENTY

One thing is certain about Monday’s Presidential announcement by former Governor Tim Pawlenty:  he will not bring up the fact that he presided over one of the larger tax increases in Minnesota’s history.  Yes, that is quite correct.

During his two terms as Governor, property taxes rose a stunning $2.5 billion – more than the previous 16 years combined (see note below).

To further amplify this enormous growth consider this fact:  in the 8 years prior to Governor Pawlenty, property taxes rose some $716 million.  Compare this to the $2.5 billion increase during the Pawlenty years.  That is an approximate 250 percent increase.

But this data also illustrates the close relationship between state and local spending in Minnesota.  All too often, state budget cuts simply translate into increased local costs.  This is particularly true when considering school financing and local government aids.

It would be a bit akin to President Obama announcing that he will cut federal funding for highways.  This would reduce the federal budget by over $40 billion and may produce some solid conservative sound bites.  But, unfortunately, the cost of those highways does not disappear.  Rather, it will show up in strained state and local government budgets.

Without reform, spending cuts all too often reappear as cost increases elsewhere.  The sad and tragic reality is that this is what happens when politics and simple slogans become the prime concern rather than quality long-term budgeting.

Further evidence of this can be seen in the fact that from 2003 to today, Minnesota has been rolling from deficit to deficit and in spite of warnings from Moody’s concerning the folly of short-term fixes, Governor Pawlenty continued to achieve budget balance by employing the following:

Borrowing over $1 billion from the tobacco settlement – money designated for health care.
Taking over $2 billion from the federal stimulus funds.
Borrowing over $1.4 billion from K-12 education funding.
Borrowing over $400 million from the Healthcare Access Fund for low-income families.
Accelerating tax payments.
Delaying bill payments.
Engaging in accounting shifts.

In the process, Moody’s lowered Minnesota’s bond rating.

And, much of this activity preceded the recession of 2007 and no borrowed monies have been paid back thereby leaving Minnesota with a $5.1 billion deficit – the 7th most severe in the United States.

It is my belief that the President we elect in 2012 should have compelling leadership skills and a demonstrated background of financial excellence.  This requires not only an appreciation of America’s financial problems but also a willingness to place the nation’s long-term well being ahead of short-term political gains.

Unfortunately, Governor Pawlenty falls short of this expectation.  There is nothing personal in my assessment.  He is smart and pleasant.  I appointed his wife to a state judgeship and I supported his first run for Governor.

However, I come from the more traditional wing of the Republican Party and truly believe in fiscal discipline and that the office of the Presidency should go to our nation’s best and brightest and not its most ambitious.

Note:   Property tax numbers trail by one year – hence Pawlenty’s years total 7 years since the 2011 figures are not yet in.

18 comments:

  1. Wasn't some of the increased property tax revenues due to the dramatic growth in property values during this time? The median home price during Pawlenty's term in office increased dramatically, which could account for some of the increase in tax income.

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  2. Amen, Pawlenty was the worst tax increasing Governor I can remember, (born 1978)...

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  3. Complete and utter non-sense from an Obama supporter. The FACT is, whenever property taxes increased it was the LOCAL government who raised them, not the State and not the Governor. MANY local governments refused to raise taxes but, instead, found ways to get more efficient without losing services. Those cities and counties that didn't do that stuck it to their taxpayers - themselves - not the State. HONESTLY, former Governor Carlson, I would have expected you to know this.

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  4. I've pointed this out to my kids. That loud noise your car makes when it hits a pothole? "PAWLENTY!"

    We spent an unexpected $130 on our car to repair what a pothole did, and are postponing another $1200 estimated repair for now. The Pawlenty legacy.

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  5. Pawlenty's only political future is as urinal cleaner at GOP headquarters with "Frothy" Rick Santorum.

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  6. Pawlenty denialists simply baffle me. It is 100% obvious that his LGA cuts and policies were the biggest reason for property tax increases, especially in rural Minnesota. To deny this defeats logic, but then again throwing Obama into the mix seems par for the course from these type of denialists.

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  7. I think the sad part is that we have a Republican party that has moved away from us Main Street Republicans. Both conservative and liberal ideas survive and prosper only with moderation yet we have unprecedented polarization. Pawlenty's biggest gaffe is to proclaim how bad things are and how we need to taste the medicine. Rather he would promote ways for prosperity for everyone. I see him as ambitious but not a true leader.

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  8. All of this really started with Bush tax cuts. The cuts put the top marginal rate near a historic low. From that point it cascaded down the various levels until property owners were hit with tax increases.

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  10. I wish there were more traditional Republicans in the Republican Party. If there were, I might still identify myself as one.

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  11. Pawlenty didn't provide any real leadership to the state and while on this watch much was said about raising standards, sadly this was only talk. He can claim to not have raised state income taxes, but with that he also abdicated his role as leader of this state. Rather than framing a plan for more effective educational planning he pushed all the touh decisions to school districts. These failures lead to huge gains in property taxes which have continued to RISE even in the face of diminished valuations. Then when it came to funding schools the local tax opponents claimed the schools were ineffective - sounds just like the Republican Party of today. Cut benefits, cut taxes, but when it hurts my family raise holy hell. You can't have it both ways folks - no such thing as a free lunch!

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  14. Wow, property taxes rose $2.5 billion. Thats insane. Thats almost as much as CA witch is 10 times larger than MN. Better get Jessie back.Car Extended Warranties
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  15. But this data also illustrates the close relationship between state and local spending in Minnesota. All too often, state budget cuts simply translate into increased local costs. This is particularly true when considering school financing and local government aids. Liz

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