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Saturday, February 11, 2006

You can tell election season is gearing up Pt 2

Governor Pawlenty opened his statement with great praise for our troops. He spent this morning in Northfield at a National Guard return ceremony. He said that we live in the freest society because of our troops....we are a blessed people.

He said that we tend to lose sight of the big picture in the day to day headaches of life. Society is changing rapidly and that puts pressure on the economy. We need to be forward thinking enough to anticipate changes. The "legacy" institutions and practices that can't change are "dead". Government is one of those "legacy" institutions - it has no competition...customers have no choices and that needs to change!

He touched on the controversy surrounding his immigration policy by stating that legal and orderly immigration is "necessary" but we need to control illegal immigration as it is a burden to the system. He spoke of people going through the medical, legal, criminal justice and education systems with multiple id's and that was costing the taxpayers.

He touched on the "Q-Comp" proposal saying that while on average our education system is good, the "below average" pockets need to be brought up to snuff. The current 40-year old platform "needs to be fixed" and that pay for performance will fix that along with the proposal to mandate that 70% of all school district spending needs to be "in the classroom" spending.

He said that we can not compete with a "broken" health care system that every year eats more and more of the state budget. At current increases, health care will consume the entire budget in 15 years. Simply raising taxes to meet the growth of health care is not going to work. We must fix the system.

Performance pay needs to apply to legislators (ed - woo hoo). The legislatures job is to get to get all work done without going into special session. The governor proposes that if the legislature can not get it's job done in time, then they don't get paid overtime! He would also like to see a form of initiative referendum put on the books. That way if things don't get done in the legislature in a timely manner (marriage amendment???? stadiums????) then the people of Minnesota would have the opportunity to vote on it!

He closed with this - we can not have real security without prosperity. Government can mandate or pretend to make guarantees, but it will eventually fall without prosperity. Government can not provide prosperity - only businesses can. We need to make sure that our businesses can compete. The problem is not tax revenues - we have plenty of that - the problem is that we are not wise in our choices.

After he spoke, the Governor talked to various members of the audience, including yours truly. I had the opportunity to ask the Governor a couple of questions about issues that I know are "hot" with my right leaning friends and family.

I asked the Governor specificially about the cigarette "fee" that went into effect last August. He answered that it was a necessary compromise. He was given a choice between raising taxes across the board or raising this cigarette "fee". I followed up asking why we didn't call it what it was - a TAX? He responded that under the classic defination, this is a "user fee". It only effects a small sub-set of the population and it is on a voluntary activity. Also we were held by the settlement of the tobacco lawsuit (thank you Mike Hatch). Raising taxes on cigarettes would put the state in violation of the settlement. However, a user fee is legally not a tax so....

He then laid it out....if you want to push a more conservative agenda, we need to get more Republicans in the House and Senate! We can not persue an agressive agenda with a 50/50 split in the Senate. I asked what those of us who live in an area that is considered to be relatively safe can do to get more conservatives elected and he said that we needed to get out and help candidates door knock and write letters and emails and make calls.

Well, I know a couple of candidates in a very blue district that needs some help. I think I'll call my friends in SD63 and see if they need some help.


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