Steve Sviggum: The case for Tim Pawlenty

When governor-elect Tim Pawlenty faced a massive state budget deficit, a reporter asked, “Who’s at fault?”  He didn’t flinch: “No one. It’s about responsibility, and I’m responsible.” In months, Pawlenty solved the deficit – no whining, no blaming.

People working hard every day are accountable in their personal and work lives, and expect the same from government. This election, they will find an experienced, accountable leader on the ballot for governor, with a record of success and a plan for Minnesota’s future: Tim Pawlenty.

For starters, he earned an “A” from the non-partisan Cato Institute by balancing the budget every year without raising taxes, vetoed $7.5 billion in tax increases, moved Minnesota out of the top the top 10 states in taxes, and ended his two terms with a $355 million budget surplus.

After decades of state spending increases of over 10 percent annually, Tim led a culture of accountability to taxpayers by limiting spending growth to 1.4 percent per year, ranking among the lowest states nationally. He also delivered nation-leading pension reform, flat-lined employee healthcare premiums, eliminated the marriage tax penalty, and capped local property taxes – all while shrinking the state workforce.

He reformed education with a national model of performance pay for teachers, drove classroom-directed funding, parent-centered school report cards, and expanded higher education choices. Meanwhile, Minnesota eighth grade math students ranked second in the nation, and high school seniors were first in ACT scores for six years running.

His work also included “Americanizing” our energy supply, dramatically reducing meth production, locking-up sex offenders, record-breaking investments in transportation, creating Lake Vermilion State Park, and unprecedented support for our military, veterans and their families with his wife, Mary.

Despite governing through a global recession, Minnesota had one of the lowest unemployment rates at 2.7 percent below the national average when Tim left office, with Business Insider calling it “ridiculously low unemployment.”

Sadly, Minnesota is now fifth in state tax burdens, spending has increased over 50 percent in just eight years, high school graduation rates rank 35th nationally, and state government is racked by hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars wasted on fraud, elder abuse, scandal, and failed leadership. Worse, even with a projected state surplus, Pawlenty’s DFL opponents are committed to more taxes, more spending, and more of the same.

We need Pawlenty now more than ever.

With a truck-driving father and a caring mother who died when he was a teen, Tim worked his way through college and law school relying on his faith, family and hard work. His campaign for governor will focus on improving opportunities for middle- and modest-income Minnesotans who are working hard but just can’t seem to get ahead.

He knows these challenges because he’s lived them. He knows those who do the work, pay the taxes, follow the law, stand for the anthem, and treat each other with courtesy and respect. He knows that political correctness run amok, mind-numbing government waste, sky-rocketing health care costs, out-of-reach college costs, job uncertainty, aging parents needing good care, preparing for retirement, and more, make a heavy load for hard-working Minnesotans. Easing that load is his top priority.

His plans include reducing health-care costs (including prescription drugs), ensuring public programs serve only those who are legal and eligible, increasing school funding but demanding accountability with better results, and updated pathways for apprenticeships and good paying jobs in today’s dynamic global, technology-driven economy.

And for those who’ve worked a lifetime to finally receive the Social Security benefits they’ve earned, you’ll get to keep it, because he’ll stop taxing social security benefits.

Minnesotans want a strong leader who will keep government accountable and in its place – advancing freedom and prosperity for everyone — .and performing in the best interest of Minnesota.

That’s Tim Pawlenty – he’s accountable.

A University of Minnesota regent, Steve Sviggum of Kenyon was a longtime member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. His tenure there included eight years as Speaker of the House. He also served as commissioner of the Department of Industry and Labor and commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget under Gov. Tim Pawlenty.





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