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WSJ: Minnesota budget woes may weigh on Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty’s truth-tellin’, fiscal-ranglin’ claims might be waylaid by Minnesota’s budget deficit woes, says an item in the Wall Street Journal.
The former governor has highlighted his Minnesota track record in his early bid for the Republican no

Tim Pawlenty’s truth-tellin’, fiscal-ranglin’ claims might be waylaid by Minnesota’s budget deficit woes, says an item in the Wall Street Journal.

The former governor has highlighted his Minnesota track record in his early bid for the Republican nomination for president, stating that he balanced the budget each year in office. But this year the state’s new governor and the Legislature are at odds over how to resolve a $5 billion for the next two-year period, and critics says Pawlenty’s policy are to blame.

Says the story:

Mr. Pawlenty said last week that the projected deficit was overstated, based on “autopilot” spending increases that not even the state’s new Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, was proposing. The end of federal stimulus spending will create “a bit of a hole,” a Pawlenty aide said, but it shouldn’t be difficult to fill.

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 Still, the red ink may prove problematic for a former governor running as a fiscal conservative willing to level with Americans about the tough choices needed to bring the federal deficit under control.

The story notes that delays in payments to schools, and the Obama stimulus funds helped Pawlenty balance the budget as governor:

Democrats say Mr. Pawlenty’s record in Minnesota undercuts his message as a presidential candidate that he can put the federal government’s finances in order. Mr. Pawlenty’s truth-telling is “a laugh line in the Minnesota Legislature,” said Minnesota State Rep. Jim Davnie, a Democrat. “He’s getting away with a version of history that just doesn’t add up if you’re here in Minnesota.”

 Allies of Mr. Pawlenty concede the governor presided over a lot of short-term maneuvering, but said they were warranted due to the recession and depressed tax receipts. “These are things you save for a rainy day, but there was more than just rain outside in 2008 and 2009,” said Minnesota State Rep. King Banaian, a Republican. “It was a real storm.”