By Mike Kaszuba
With two weeks remaining in office, Gov. Tim Pawlenty outlined his accomplishments Tuesday and compared his attempt to reign in decades of government spending by liberals in Minnesota to trying to turn around General Motors.
“It’s long overdue, and it was needed,” the Republican governor said in giving his final in-depth interview to reporters. “The path Minnesota was on was unsustainable. It was irresponsible. It was, I think, similar to General Motors of the past where you had management and labor [that] ran up the cost so far, so fast.”
In outlining his accomplishments as he ends two-terms as Minnesota’s governor – and possibly mounts a presidential run – Pawlenty said he had rolled back general fund spending to 0.93 percent per year during his time in office. In the 43 years before he took office in 2003, the governor said, general fund spending had grown an average of 20.5 every two years.
Pawlenty also listed a series of other, mostly modest accomplishments, and said Minnesota’s quality of life had not deteriorated during his tenure.
But he said his achievements had to be seen in the context of fighting a DFL-controlled Legislature for much of his time as governor – and the state’s longtime liberal makeup. “I’m up against large cultural forces here,” he said.
“I’m the first, true, fiscally conservative governor I think that has served here in the modern history of this state,” he said. “This eight years. . .will be known as the time that Minnesota finally came to terms with its excesses.”
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