OPINION | 20 year public employee Tim Pawlenty slams public employees

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Minnesota’s lame duck Gov. Tim Pawlenty is running. He’s running for president and just as importantly he’s running from his record as governor of Minnesota. Want evidence of that? Check out the Dec. 13 issue of the Wall Street Journal, where Mr. Pawlenty stomps on his blue collar roots and his own history as a legislator to launch an attack on folks who work for cities, states and the federal government.

No need to repeat the false assertions and fractured facts that Pawlenty got from the Chamber of Commerce and mixed into his article. Instead, just look at the record of the guy who is happily sucking up to the Chamber’s check writers.

Tim Pawlenty was elected to his first term as Minnesota’s governor in 2002. He succeeded pro-wrestler Jessie Ventura as Minnesota’s chief executive.

When Pawlenty took his oath of office, Minnesota had a budget surplus. As Pawlenty leaves office, Minnesota’s legislators and its new Governor, DFL-er Mark Dayton, have to fill a $6.2 billion hole that Pawlenty left in the $39 billion state budget.

Tim Pawlenty, who disparages public service and public sector workers even as he seeks yet another public sector job, bills himself as a fiscal conservative. A fiscal conservative who rejected a balanced approach to resolving his state’s budget problems.

A fiscal conservative who dismissed the value of public employees and the work they do for their fellow-citizens. A fiscal conservative who figured he could save a few bucks by asking his Lt. Governor, who knew a lot about farming but not so much about highway engineering, to serve as highway commissioner. A fiscal conservative who didn’t really see the need for costly bridge inspections and repairs.

And that’s how some of us will remember him. The fiscal conservative whose pledge to keep taxes low for his funders trumped his oath of office — and led to the deadly collapse of a highway bridge over the Mississippi. River.
13 Minnesotans were killed and 111 more were injured when that bridge collapsed. But Gov. Pawlenty’s commitment to cheap government lives on. He’ll be touting that commitment and the shiny sides of his record as he travels the country promoting the book he’s written “Courage to Stand: An American Story”.

You’ve got to give Tim Pawlenty credit. He had the courage to stand with the Chamber of Commerce for eight years. He had the raw courage to veto bill after bill that would have raised the revenue needed to balance Minnesota’s budget.

And he has found the courage to write opinion articles built on facts bravely furnished by the government-averse U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliates. We want our friends in the other 49 states to know that Tim’s got courage and that his fellow citizens hope that he’ll keep busy outside of Minnesota.

Also, friends, you may want to keep an eye on your bridges.

Jim Monroe is Executive Director, MAPE, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.