We're not talking about Barack Obama. We're talking one of my favorite Governors, Tim Pawlenty. That's how the Wall Street Journal describes the Minnesota conservative's behavior at the close of this legislative session.
It goes like this: Minnesota is in the hole big time. The Democrats there, surprise, surprise, thought they could spend their way out of it. Through these ridiculous, proposed tax hikes, Pawlenty maintained some sound, conservative principles: Balance the budget, live within means, no new taxes!
Right before session ended though, the Dems started sending Pawlenty spending bills thinking he'd veto them, call a special session and, like a spineless moderate, negotiate.
Upon receiving the last spending bill, he announced that he would exercise the power of "unallotment," which has been on the books since 1939 and which has been used four times. Under it, the governor is allowed to "unallot" (take away) any state spending for which there is no money to pay. Panicked, the DFL passed tax legislation to cover its blowout spending bills, 10 minutes before the session's end. Too late. The governor said he'd veto the bill and would not be calling back the legislature to do any more mischief.
Mr. Pawlenty is now free to strip $2.7 billion from state spending to balance the budget. Tax hikes are dead. He tells me this will be one of the first times in modern Minnesota history that the state will reduce the size of government in real terms, not just slow its rate of growth. "The correlation in recent history has been between job growth and states that have reasonable government cost structures," he says. These cuts, he says, will position Minnesota to take advantage of the recovery when it comes.
That's what I call Minnesota Nice. And if you think Pawlenty's disappeared from the national stage, think again. Tactics like this are not only good for the state and good for businesses, but good for giving conservatives hope for the future.
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