Former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson is urging the state GOP chairman to encourage "more thoughtfulness and less vindictive politics," and is criticizing Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Republican legislators for not doing enough to tackle a daunting budget deficit.
"As you know, I inherited a large deficit and, therefore, want to be as helpful as possible in preparing the candidates and public for the hard and painful choices that lay ahead," wrote Carlson in an open letter to GOP chairman Tony Sutton. Carlson was governor from 1991 to 1999.
Carlson criticized GOP leadership -- in particular Pawlenty -- for inadequate responses to the budget crisis.
Carlson has had a strained relationship with the Republican Party, endorsing Democrat Barack Obama for president in 2008.
Pawlenty spokesman Bruce Gordon said, "Every budget during Governor Pawlenty’s watch has been balanced, including the current one.For someone who left the Republican Party, Gov. Carlson sure seems to have a lot of advice for it."
Sutton wasn't immediately available for comment.
Referring to the $3 billion gap lawmakers faced this year, Carlson wrote: "There was not a single bill submitted by Governor Pawlenty or Republican legislators that reduced the costs of government by $3 billion or even suggested a mix of cuts and modest revenue increases that eliminated the deficit. Like prior budgets, the aim was to simply push the problem to the future."
"Failure to properly balance the budget in healthy years (2002-2007) has led to a huge deficit problem that will be inherited by the next governor and Legislature."
He noted that Pawlenty is responsible for putting together a balanced budget proposal for 2012 and 2013.