Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty waved his veto pen like a sword at his State of the State address, but the labor community sees that sword as cutting jobs, not cutting taxes.
“The Governor’s veto pen is a job killer.” said one AFSCME member after listening to Pawlenty’s threat to veto proposed legislation that would invest tax dollars in transportation.
“I was looking for… something that would help our members to afford to move ahead instead of back with paychecks and take home (pay).” said a representative of the SEIU noting that paychecks for teachers in the central part of Minnesota have gone down while health care costs have gone up.
Watch the video for The UpTake’s two-minute version of the Governor’s speech and then hear the reaction.
The Governor’s brief State Of The State speech acknowledged the disasters of the past year such as the I-35W bridge collapse, and the severe economic challenges that Minnesota will face in 2008 : recession coupled with a budget deficit now projected at $373 million.
Governor Pawlenty’s tone seemed relatively optimistic given the dire financial outlook. He initiated several new spending outlays: purchasing land around Lake Vermillion for a new state park and creating a new online educational toolbox with “jaw-dropping, eye-popping” graphics imitating the current crop of “state of the art video games”.
While advocating these new policies Governor Pawlenty reiterated that the funds for either could not come from new taxes as he raised his tax veto pen to a standing ovation.
DFL party leadership held a quick press conference in response. In rebuttal, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller chided the speech as long on inspiration but short on substance.
Kelliher committed to sending a third bi-paritisan transportation bill to the Governor’s desk with a partial tax rebate to offset tax increases.