DFL Senators want cabinet post left unfilled

Two DFL Senators are asking Gov. Tim Pawlenty to hold off on filling a vacant cabinet position as a way to save money.

Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, who chairs the higher education committee, and Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, chair of the finance committee, wrote a letter to the governor suggesting he not replace Susan Heegaard as director of the Office of Higher Education.

“In light of the current budget crisis that Minnesota faces, we believe that it is imperative that we look for savings at every level,” Pappas and Cohen wrote.

“Our suggestion is in no way a reflection of the quality or the importance of the work Ms. Heegaard directed: in fact we feel that she did an outstanding job in her role.” However, we also believe that the office will be able to manage in the very capable hands of Acting Director Mark Misukanis.”

Pawlenty announced in January that Heegaard would leave her post Feb. 5, to work for the Bush Foundation.

UPDATE

A spokesman for Gov. Pawlenty offered this comment:

Governor Pawlenty places a high priority on higher education accountability and reform. Minnesota businesses are depending on Minnesota colleges and universities to turn out qualified workers. That’s why the Governor elevated the Office of Higher Education to a cabinet level agency during his first term.

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