Laura Waterman Wittstock

Laura Waterman Wittstock is president and CEO of Wittstock & Associates. The firm provides consultation in new projects, creative, development, assessment/evaluation, and governance. Read more about Laura Waterman Wittstock

Has Pawlenty Been Given the Meat Axe He Thinks He Has?

Posted by: Laura Waterman Wittstock Updated: July 6, 2009 - 1:33 PM
Governor Tim Pawlenty is using the meat axe he thinks he has been given to "unallot" dozens of otherwise reasonable measures passed by the state legislature. How did this weapon come to be in the hands of the governor? 

According to the Minnesota Legislative Reference, way back in 1939 this administrative supercard was proposed by Governor Harold Stassen and passed by the legislature (to be used "under certain circumstances").  It appears no governor used unallotment until Al Quie in 1981 followed by Rudy Perpich in 1986. Governor Pawlenty was next in 2003, 2008, and 2009. $2.86 billion is by far the most any governor has ever contemplated. The stupendous amount seems to spill over the limits of administrative balance in state government. The question the courts may have to address is whether "certain circumstances" are fulfilled in Pawlenty's use of unallotment at the beginning of the biennium. 

Harold Stassen's reach to give the governor's office more power and create an unbalance became in the hands of Tim Pawlenty a master's pull on the legislature, forcing it to become a child of the governor. The legislature can be punished or treated to favors if certain of its members foolishly give away powers that should be highly defended.

Putting the governor squarely in charge of the dispensation of taxes to local government and state departments spreads fear and toadying throughout the state. After the legislature worked long and hard on the biennial budget and gave the governor the best solution for avoiding greater deficits in the outlying years, all was refused. As if no wisdom whatsoever was put into the work of the legislature, the governor slashed expenses on the simple-minded promise to never raise taxes. This is a governor that does not know the value of taxes. This is a governor that surely must end his public life with a limp.









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