And he's not friendly.
Over the course of the past eight years, then-Gov. Pawlenty promoted a disturbing new brand of politics in Minnesota. He took rigid pledges, refused to negotiate, and appeared to be more concerned with good partisan politics than he was with good policy.
This is why our state experienced serial state budget deficits and why -- despite the objections of DFLers in the Legislature -- our books were balanced on the backs of hardworking middle-class families.
This year, the Republican legislative majority is pushing the same flawed approach -- an approach that keeps us stuck in a failed past instead of moving us forward.
When asked recently about Republicans' willingness to seek a compromise to balance the budget, Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, channeled Pawlenty's spirit, flatly stating that the House GOP budget was their "first, best, and last" offer.
Pawlenty was notorious for planting his feet in cement and refusing to budge, which brought us repeated budget impasses, numerous special sessions and even a government shutdown in 2005.
The Republican majorities this year seem to have borrowed Pawlenty's cement and to have happily jumped in with both feet.
More than copying his negotiating style, the Republican majority seems to have adopted Pawlenty's budgeting techniques. The Republican budget is missing more than $1 billion.
Beyond that, it looks eerily similar to Pawlenty's gimmick-filled budgets, simply cut-and-pasted into this year's session. It is filled with the same kind of fund raids, shifts and shell games that have led to unending state budget deficits.
In fact, the current House Republican budget leaves our state with a whopping $3.5 billion debt just two years from now.
In addition to continuing massive state deficits, the Republican budget continues the backward, job-killing, all-cuts approach that squeezes middle class families in our state.
For eight years, Pawlenty passed the buck through higher property taxes, increased fees for everything from driver's licenses to fishing, and asked hard-working families to pay more and get less.
As a result of these policies, Minnesota is falling behind when it comes to the things that residents of our state care most about.
We're creating fewer jobs than other states. Our children's schools are going from being outstanding to being overcrowded. We are failing our seniors, the disabled and too many communities across our state.
The GOP budget this year is simply more of the same. As opposed to setting sensible priorities and making smart budget cuts, they are instead playing Pawlenty-style politics by putting the special interests ahead of Minnesota's interests.
Republicans voted repeatedly to protect tax breaks for big corporations that lay off workers, while at the same time slashing support for start-up companies and small businesses that employ Minnesota workers.
While shielding the richest Minnesotans from taking their fair share of budget-balancing responsibility, the GOP majority is asking middle-class Minnesotans to bear the entire budget-balancing responsibility -- including up to $1.3 billion in additional property taxes.
It's time for the GOP to exorcise the ghosts of the uncooperative, unproductive past. It's time for them to get to work on Minnesota's budget priorities, and work for all of us instead of for a privileged few.
Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, is minority leader in the Minnesota House.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.