Gov. Tim Pawlenty is on MPR’s Midday today at 11. I’ll be live-blogging his appearance, however I will not be in the studio so don’t send questions to me. But do use the comments to section to discuss what he has to say.
I wonder if the question about higher political ambitions will come up?
11:06 a.m. – We’re underway. Gary makes mention that people are betting against the Legislature finishing without a special session. A friend of mine, fairly well placed in a department agency, says they were planning for a special session even before the legislative session began.
11:07 a.m. – “The work always fills to expand the time,” Gov. Pawlenty says.
11:08 a.m. – Gary suggests Pawlenty and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller don’t get along. “It’s not personal,” Pawlenty says.
11:09 a.m. – Pawlenty says he won’t sign a bill with a tax increase but says it’s not because of the “pledge” he took in 2002. Eichten notes that even though it’s not called a tax increase, he is proposing additional revenue.
11:12 a.m. – “In the last 24 months, there have been the largest block of tax increases in the modern history of Minnesota,” Pawlenty says.
11:13 a.m. – Governor says economic projections are not generally reliable. “Anyone who tells you they know what the state budget is going to look like four years out is not telling the whole story,” he says.
11:14 a.m. – From photographer Tom Weber:
11:15 a.m. – The governor repeats his contention that Minnesota has one of the most generous health care programs in the country and it’s suffocating us. It will overtake the budget within 15 years.
Wayback machine: Gubernatorial candidates debate health care — 2002
11:19 a.m. – On permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead. “The limiting factor isn’t state money…Minnesota and North Dakota hasn’t been the holdup.” He also says some projects in the area will be fully funded in bonding bill this year.
Questions from the audience
Q: You’ve taken to chiding the federal government for deficit spending. You have a history of balancing the budget in the short run by pushing the problem into the future. How can you be taken seriously for criticizing a president who’s showing leadership?
A: Minnesota has a legal requirement to balance its budget every two years. We have not been in deficit.
BTW, Pawlenty did the Republican response to Obama’s weekly address this weekend.
Aside: Did the governor just hint at his future? He was referring to the budget proposal four years out and said, “The new four year requirement only applies to me… the next governor — if it’s me or somebody else — won’t have that requirement.”
Q: Why are the roads so poor?
A: We’re spending more money on road and bridge construction on my watch than in any other comparable time in the state. (We’ll need to fact-check that and in doing so, remove the amount that was spent on the I-35W bridge.)
Q: Do you support that requires kids to be strapped into a seat (and making it a primary offense?)
A: I support it.
11:30 a.m. – Gary asks if he expects gay marriage to come up. “I don’t think so. John Marty is the chief author of the bill and it’ll take a super majority vote at the Legislature.” He doesn’t think the Legislature is interested in wading into it.
11:34 a.m. – The Franken-Coleman race. Says he doesn’t know if he’d issue an election certificate after the state court’s rule on the race. “We get asked, ‘why don’t you just sign it now?’ Minnesota Supreme Court has said it shouldn’t be issued until the state courts finish.” If it goes to the federal court? “I’d want to look at what the courts did with the case, leaving issues for appeals. I just want to make sure I have all the facts in front of me. And a state or federal court could stay the issuing of the certificate”.
He says having the ability to appoint a temporary senator would be “a good and helpful thing.”
Pawlenty says some counties treated ballots differently. True, of course, but I continue to wonder why nobody is considering the idea of taking elections away from the counties and putting it in the hands of the state?
Pawlenty says both candidates have had a fair hearing.
Q: The Great Depression lasted 11-16 years depending on who you talk to. You said we have to count on a recovery and you’ve structured your budget as such, I’d like to hear specifics on why you think the economy will recover in four years?
A: Our own state economist, Federal Reserve, have said the economy is going to be in recessionary mode through 2009. But they suggest it will begin to recover in late 2009 or 2010. They don’t see it as a Depression. They see a slow recovery.
Q: What are your plans for long-term care?
A: Everybody realizes the industry needs to change. It’s old-style’50s nursing homes. A lot of seniors want to stay in their homes, so bringing help into their homes is one way to serve them. They don’t want it to be old-style nursing homes, so the nursing home industry has to make that pivot. People aren’t going into nursing homes and living for as long as they did.
Q: How can you call it no-tax increase when you cut funding to local governments and forced them to raise taxes? Elko just cut their police department.
A: “Some additional facts might be helpful to you: It’s not written in a stone tablet that cities and counties have to raise taxes. Many have reserves.” He says cities are making cuts more painful than they need to in order to “rile people up.”
Pawlenty listed Waseca and Eagan as communities that do a good job.
“What about communities who’ve already cut to the bone,” Eichten asks.
“There’s a lot of data to look at. The mayor of the coalition of cities is the mayor of Wadena. He’s got over a million dollars of reserves. Have they frozen salaries? In each case it’s a little different,” Pawlenty says.
11:47 a.m. – Should kids be allowed to graduate and the grad standards relaxed to allow them to? Pawlenty says “no.” “We’re in discussion with the legislators to give them a temporary reprieve if they agree to a fix.,” he said.
Q: We had tax cuts in the Bush administration and economy is in the pits. What happened?
A: The housing “house of cards.” People were allowed to buy houses without much money down. Financiers got their hands on mortgages and sliced them up and sold them around the world and then used that money to finance other arrangements. It’s a story of greed; a story of reckless behavior. It started as a housing crisis and it’s spread around the world…”
Pressed by Eichten on whether the tax cuts should have worked, Pawlenty said they’d run their course. “It doesn’t exponentially grow.” That would be an interesting discussion. Is there a limit on the benefit of a tax cut.
Q: Would you like to be president?
A: “I haven’t given it any thought,” Pawlenty says. Gary rightfully suggests that’s baloney.
Q: If you had to choose today, would you run for re-election?
A: I’m keeping that to myself. He’ll announce it late spring or summer.
Q: Does Rep. Bachmann speak for the Republican Party.
A: She’s passionate. She’s got strong views. She’s unfairly criticized. She does speak for the mainstream conservative movement.
Q: Do you think young people will be sent off to re-education camps?
A: Members of Congress have said there should be forced service. Congresswoman Bachmann may have been referring to those kinds of proposals.
11:57 a.m. – When will you meet with legislative leaders? “I met with chairs of bonding committee last week. We have a lot of legislative meetings this week. I don’t have anything scheduled with the two leaders. Part of the problem is we don’t know what their proposals are. They don’t even agree between the House and Senate. They need to finalize their work and agree with each other before they reconcile their differences with me,” he said.