Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was in Washington when lawmakers lobbed his transportation veto back at him, returned to Minnesota Tuesday and warned Democrats to "buckle their seat belts because there may be some unexpected turbulence."
Pawlenty sternly rebuked lawmakers who voted to override his veto of a bill raising the gas tax, local sales taxes and vehicle registration fees to pay for $6.6 billion in transportation projects. Eight Republicans in the Legislature joined every Democrat in supporting the first successful override attempt during Pawlenty's tenure.
"You can mark the calendar, yesterday will be the day that began a tax revolt in Minnesota," Pawlenty said. The bill, he added, "took a bucket of tax increases and dumped it on the head of Minnesotans."
He predicted the bill will haunt DFL House members campaigning for re-election this fall.
House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said he was "disappointed to hear about the governor's partisan tone."
"People all around our state understand just how important it is to get Minnesota moving again," Sertich said.
Pawlenty defended his five-day trip to Washington as the critical vote approached. He said he appealed to Republicans by phone to uphold his veto.
He and GOP legislative leaders promised to close ranks and fend off any other tax hikes that come forward this year. That includes any to balance a budget deficit expected to grow in size when a new economic report is released Thursday. The state already faced a projected $373 million deficit.