Representatives from Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration defended the governor’s decision to pay his faith-based office coordinator out of a license plate fund for veterans during a legislative hearing on the issue on Thursday. But legislators criticized Pawlenty’s use of inter-agency agreements to pay his staff – the cost of which has jumped from $37,000 under Gov. Jesse Ventura in 1999 to $702,000 under Pawlenty in 2010. [Video after the jump]
“It’s a questionable trend when we are telling everyone else they need to tighten their belts and live within their means,” Sen. Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, said at the hearing.
Michael Pugliese, the commissioner of Veterans Affairs, said Pawlenty’s faith-based office coordinator, Lee Buckley, did legitimate outreach to veterans for the $30,000 the governor pulled out of the “Support Our Troops” license plate program.
State Fiscal Analyst Kevin Lundeen said that Pawlenty’s budget was difficult to track at times because of all the inter-agency payments.
The Minnesota Progressive Project attended the hearing and has a copy of the breakdown of how Pawlenty is using money from state agencies to fill gaps in his office’s budget:
Higher Education: $20,000
MN Housing Finance: $12,000
Human Services: $137,500
Labor & Industry: $20,000
Metropolitan Council: $27,500
Military Affairs: $7,000
Pollution Control: $24,000
Public Safety: $26,500
Veterans Affairs: $37,000
TOTAL – ALL AGENCIES: $702,000