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Pawlenty ticks off veto list

Gov. Tim Pawlenty
MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig
Gov. Tim Pawlenty at this afternoon’s news conference: “I’m not here to rehash the DFL failures.”

Gov. Tim Pawlenty didn’t come into his news conference Tuesday afternoon carrying his “veto” stamp. But clearly, he’s got it handy.

He will veto the DFL tax bill that was blasted through the Legislature in the final seconds of the session Monday night.

He will veto the medical marijuana bill, though, “I have great empathy for the sick.”

He will veto the election bill, because it was not done in a “bipartisan way.”

And he’ll look closely at the Legacy bill, too, to see if the final product is closer to the House or Senate version. If it looks more like the House version, he’ll veto that, too.

Despite all of these vows of vetoes and soon, unallotment, Pawlenty seemed to be in an almost buoyant mood.

“I’m not here to rehash the DFL failures,” he said. “The sky is blue, the sun is out. The minds of Minnesotans are turning to Memorial Day, summer, fishing. . . .We’re a strong state, we continue to lead the nation in quality of life. I’m confident, optimistic we can get through this.”

Still, it should be noted that by the time Pawlenty is done vetoing and unalloting, for the first time Minnesota will see a real reduction in state spending over a biennium. In the current bienniem, the state has operated with revenues of about $34 billion. After Pawlenty is done cutting, the next biennium will total about $31 billion from state revenues and will receive about $2 billion in one-time federal money.

By Pawlenty’s math, he will be cutting “at most 3 or 4 per cent” from the state’s budget.   He promised to announce where the big unallotment cuts will come in short order, likely before the start of the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. He also hinted that many of the cuts will come from the second year of the biennium, meaning there will be a legislative session between now and when the cuts would actually take place.

“This will be done in a quick, thoughtful manner,” said Pawlenty.

He even said there’s the public to advise him: People can send their thoughts on what should be cut to

The governor insists he’s on firm legal ground using the unallotment process in a way it’s never been used before.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Pawlenty said. “But it’s not an option. It’s a duty. I will fulfill that duty.”

But DFLers are implying that he may be skirting the intention of the unallotment statute.

Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-St. Louis Park, spoke to the media following Pawlenty’s news conference. Though Winkler said the DFL has no plans to take legal action against the governor, he hinted that institutions that may get hit hard by unallotment — local governments and hospitals, for example — may raise legal questions.

The law, Winkler said, gives the governor authority to unallot when there are “unanticipated” revenue shortfalls. 

“In this case,” Winkler said, “the governor decided there would be a shortfall.”

Winkler noted that Pawlenty signed all of the legislative spending bills but now promises to veto the bill that would pay for the spending.

Unlike times in the past, when he’s used his bully pulpit to say unkind things about DFLers in the Legislature, Pawlenty seemed to go out of his way not to use angry rhetoric.

He even called the overall work of the Legislature “a reasonable conclusion given the circumstances.”

Pawlenty skirted a question about how his decisions during this session were guided by his own political ambitions.

“I get these questions a lot,” Pawlenty said. “There are a lot of people in the Legislature who have announced they’re running for governor. Ask the others those same questions. … This is not some new position for me. There’s nothing new here. I’ve said all along you don’t raise taxes in the worst recession in 60 years.”

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/19/2009 - 02:59 pm.

    I, for one, look forward to the coming economic prosperity. The Club for Growth promises that when Government shrinks, prosperty is the result. So lets get on with it & reap the benefits of the Governor’s pending spending cuts.

  2. Submitted by Ellen Wolfson on 05/19/2009 - 03:21 pm.

    King Tim seems to have forgotten that this is a democracy and that we elected a legislature to represent us. Apparently he has forgotten what the word conservative means and is only interested in borrowing, cutting, and spending.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/19/2009 - 03:27 pm.

    Yeah… about that prosperity. Governor Pawlenty has ALREADY brought massive prosperity to a very few. As to the rest of us… not so much.

    And as for the future golden age for the residents of the state of Minnesota… that one soon to arrive… I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Just remember… Never let the residents of this state forget who it was that demanded that they be allowed to accomplish what the next few years will bring.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/19/2009 - 03:29 pm.

    And is that goofy, gleeful smile on Tim’s face and his strangely upbeat attitude because he just created a new horcrux?

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/19/2009 - 03:41 pm.

    In commemoration of the Democrat legislature’s effort this year, I suggest the Governor spend a day drinking heavily, show up to his office at 11:15 p.m. and, using darts, make his unallotment choices and be home before midnight.

  6. Submitted by Joni Whiting on 05/19/2009 - 04:42 pm.

    Sent to the Office of the Govenor May 19, 2009

    Govenor Pawlenty,

    What Crime is Compassion? The police say that passing this bill will do nothing but make it easier for more abuse. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Had they ever walked in MY SHOES, they would reconsider their inane and blatantly foolish rhetoric. Medical Marijuana will not stop abusers from abusing. But it will protect people like my daughter from the stigma and fear of acquiring it by illegal means. I know you are aware of my daughters’ plight. But she is dead, so you can’t hurt her by your veto. You are however hurting many others whom need a leader that listens to the voice of the people. The people in Minnesota want this legislation.
    Who are you to slap them in the face? They are no longer willing to have their leaders ignore their will. The will of the people will survive you if you do veto. I will personally look forward to debating this issue and testifying to the truth and reasons why I personally changed my mind to this issue. It became obvious to me that Legislators don’t know squat about medical anything last night, And that you should not be in the business of regulating what is between a patients and their physicians. That last moment amendment that passed will now force doctors to take hope of a miracle away from already sick and dying people. Because first in order to get them the medication they need that might help them to live, they have to take away their hope and declare them “terminal” In my child’s case… she would have died before they issued her a card. That is what is so stupid about all of this.

    I also had a child who was in a very life threatening accident on a snowmobile in the year of the two 25 in snowstorms. His friend died at the scene. My son was put on opiates… (legal cocaine) Governor. My sisters relative, (an addict) snuck into my home in the middle of the night and stole all his oxycontins putting cut up aspirin in their place. I did the right thing. I called the police. THEY DID NOTHING. He then went on to steal a prescription pad from a dentist office and attempted to illegally fill prescriptions for vicodin in my husbands name at our pharmacy. He used my children to attempt to get my husbands date of birth and attempted to steal his identity. We did the right thing, We call the police. THEY DID NOTHING. Don’t tell me the sick and dying are being protected from criminals in the issue of medical marijuana, because I’ll tell you your full of, well never mind, i can’t say that. Let’s just say you have no business telling the physicians what they should be doing to relieve the pain and suffering of your constituents. You haven’t got a clue. For me? If you veto, I’ll see this issue on the ballot, hopefully in 2010. For you? Well you vetoed the medical act for the poor, now your can go full force into ill people. Perhaps next you can legislate euthanasia for anyone not healthy enough to vote. Shame on you.

    Joni Whiting

  7. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/19/2009 - 06:07 pm.

    Dear T.S… Ah… we have no interest in pursuing your typical lifestyle.

  8. Submitted by Grace Kelly on 05/19/2009 - 06:47 pm.

    Is “high quality journalism” when you just parrot what Pawlenty says?

  9. Submitted by Nina Boenish on 05/19/2009 - 06:59 pm.

    “I have great empathy for the sick.”

    With all do respect, Governor Pawlenty, the only empathy you seem to demonstrate is towards those with deep pockets. It seems as though you take delight in cutting medical programs for the poor. Your stance on relieving the pain of the severely ill is, therefore, unsurprising.

    To Greg Kapphahn, keep those humorous comments coming. Tim made a horcrux, ROFL!

    BTW, was the double entendre in the title of this piece intentional?

  10. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 05/19/2009 - 10:57 pm.

    Re: Comment #1

    I don’t think that government will be shrinking any over the next two years so I doubt that we’ll get to test the theory.

  11. Submitted by Andrew Kearney on 05/19/2009 - 11:46 pm.

    I hope that we do see leadership from someone out there in a position to do to legally challenge Pawlenty’s unallotment scheme.

    I have always thought that Tim Pawlenty’s role as governor had a whiff of ‘illegitimacy’ in that he was elected twice without a plurality of the vote. His action to veto the revenue bill (twice) and then sign the spending bills without negotiating a settlement with the duly elected representatives of the people with the intent of using the unallotment statute to establish the state budget is an act of unconstitutional tyrrany. No governor has ever done such a thing and there is a good reason for that. The legislature is the primary branch of government and has the lead constitutional responsibility for appropriations and revenue.

    There is no theory of American governance that supports such a move with the exception of Bush/Cheney/Rove’s theory of the “unitary executive” made famous by Richard Nixon: “if the president [governor] does it-it is legal.” The American people soundly rejected this theory. There is no other state that has an unallotment statute. It is unconstitutional. Minnesotans should rise up and reject this governor.

    I believe that his actions have placed him outside the circle of legitimacy-that ancient concept-the sense or acceptance by the people that you have the authority to govern-no matter what the form of government. For this reason I will from now on refer to him as plain “Tim Pawlenty” without any honorifics or title. He is no longer the legitimate governor of our state. He merely occupies the office. Please join me in this protest.

  12. Submitted by John Olson on 05/20/2009 - 07:04 am.

    Thomas, I’m hoping that your earlier post was a lame attempt at humor.

    Between the line-item vetoes and the forthcoming unallotments, people are going to be adversely affected. Some moreso than others. Some may not even notice the impact, depending on what eventually gets “unallotted.” There isn’t any humor, however, in some of the decisions the Governor will have to make and I am willing to bet that he does not think it is funny either.

    And from the looks of things, there are a sizable number of Minnesotans who don’t think its funny either.

  13. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 05/20/2009 - 11:21 am.

    I’d really bank on that promise from the Club For Growth, also known as the former right-wing Republican congressman pay scheme. I’m sure unlike every other political action committee in the country they have only the best interest of the country at heart.

  14. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/20/2009 - 12:40 pm.

    “I’m hoping that your earlier post was a lame attempt at humor.”


    That’s the same thing I kept thinking as I watched the Democrat legislature running amok night before last.

    Sadly, they weren’t kidding at all.

  15. Submitted by George Hayduke on 05/20/2009 - 01:25 pm.

    Mr. Swift says:

    In commemoration of the Democrat legislature’s effort this year, I suggest the Governor spend a day drinking heavily, show up to his office at 11:15 p.m. and, using darts, make his unallotment choices and be home before midnight.

    That sounds more like Mr. Swift’s methodology for selecting his comments for MinnPost.

  16. Submitted by Mike Wyatt on 05/20/2009 - 04:14 pm.

    I was so disappointed when the legislators tried to figure out just WHAT Pawlenty would sign and in turn slashed away at the medical marijuana bill that had passed 6 committees and removed chronic medical conditions from the bill. I took solace in the idea that perhaps at least terminally ill would find some comfort, and figured Pawlenty surely wouldn’t step on the sick and dying and refuse to sign a bill to potentially help terminal patients. But no, he won’t do that either. Unreal. This is one mean-spirited man, this “Tim Pawlenty.” I just ask that people remember this at the polls next year. Hopefully a ballot initiative will be introduced and the people can do the right thing. Hopefully sick and dying people have sympathetic jurors in the meantime. Unreal. I cannot believe that dying people are not worthy of compassion. I see that law enforcement is in hot water- the people that Pawlenty let bend his ear on this issue. How does the Minneaplois Gang & Drug task force “lose” 13 forfeited vehicles and $15K+ in cash and take an unauthorized trip to Hawaii. I can see where their word is the word of reason and decency here. (Sarcasm.)

  17. Submitted by Bookem Dann0 on 05/20/2009 - 04:37 pm.

    Pawlent’s List of Veto Accomplishments:
    1) Job Loss Gov.
    2) Deficit Gov.
    3) Bridge Collapse Gov.
    4) More Tax Cuts for Corps. and his Wealthy Moral Quasi-Patriotic friends.

    I can hardly wait to see how many new jobs his famous “Veto Pen” creates this time?

  18. Submitted by Joe Matheis on 05/21/2009 - 11:16 am.

    Where is it written that the state has to continually spend more money every year?

    When revenue forecasts are down, how can you possibly increase the level of spending? This doesn’t make any economic sense.

    Further, to lay this solely at the feet of Pawlenty is spurious at best. Certainly he has more than a share of the blame for issues, but the legislature had 5 months; let me say that again: FIVE MONTHS to create a budget bill – what should have been the #1 priority for this session and did nothing but stick to their original pass.

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