When I asked Mark Haveman of the Minnesota Taxpayers Association whether Pawlenty handed his successor, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, a $5 billion deficit his answer was simple. “Yes.”
“There’s no question that Governor Pawlenty held the line on taxes,” Haveman continued. “But if you are going to cut or hold the line on taxes, you also better be ready to introduce bold, fresh thinking with new ideas on how to reform government to deliver more value from taxpayer dollars. And I don’t think there was much in the way of substantive reform—or for that matter, evidence of risking political capital—to push new ideas through… Unless you address the underlying cost structures of all these programs and the implications that they have on the budget, you’re going to continue to have persistent structural budget deficits as far as the eye can see.” Of course, the same thing is true on the federal level today.
“There is no doubt that Tim Pawlenty slowed down the growth of state government,” attests Chad Hartman, a leading local talk-radio host on WCCO. “But there’s equally no doubt if you’re a taxpayer, you didn’t pay it at the state level but you paid it at the property tax level. Because property taxes went up anywhere between $2.5 billion and $3 billion—and that data has been proven repeatedly.”