First of all, let me say that the pomp & circumstance of the event was impressive. It really is an event. Early on, Gov. Pawlenty talked about Minnesota’s positive achievements. Here’s one particular riff:

It’s because of the hard work, dedication and character of our people that Minnesota is at or near the top in most quality of life measures.

We’re number one in child well-being, home ownership & access to health care.
We’re number one in voter turnout, Fortune 500 companies per capita and production of medical devices.

We’re number one in sugar beets, sweet cor, green peas and turkeys.

We’re number one in ACT scores, the percentage of adults with a high school diploma, and number two in eighth grade math scores.

Gov. Pawlenty then touted St. Cloud & Mayor Kleis:

Recently, the City of St. Cloud won a Gold Medal as the most livable city in the world. Mayor Kleis, that’s about as good as it gets. Congratulations to you and your fantastic city.

After that stretch, Gov. Pawlenty focused attention on the economy:

Minnesotans are understandably concerned about a fragile economy, rising health care and energy costs, making ends meet and government’s never-ending claims on their pocketbook.

Frankly, that brief paragraph was aimed right at the DFL’s heart. He singled out the DFL’s constant desire to raise taxes. He followed that up with this a few minutes later:

As we tackle the deficit, we must remember that Minnesota’s hardworking families are already squeezed enough. They’re paying more for gas, food and health care. The last thing they need is government rummaging around in their pockets looking for more. Government must learn to live within its means. We should not add to the burden on Minnesota families by raising taxes.

Gov. Pawlenty wasn’t done pressing his agenda, instead following it up with this volley:

We need to reduce taxes and regulations that discourage job growth, income generation, investment, entrepreneurial activity, job climate and large government discouraging economic growth.

That’s when he lowered the boom on the DFL:

Our current tax system reflects the economy and demographics of the 1960s. It’s outdated and needs to be fixed. So I’m announcing that I will create the 21st Century Tax Reform Commission that will recommend tax reforms for the 21st century economy.

At that point, Gov. Pawlenty sent the strongest shot across the DFL’s bow:

In the meantime, I still have an important tool to restrain taxes and spending. I call it the Taxpayer Protection Pen, otherwise known as the veto pen. As you know, I will not hesitate to use it to stop government from digging into your wallets.

Predictably, that got the loudest ovation of the speech. To say that DFL legislators weren’t amused is understatement. In fact, I counted several looks of consternation on the faces of DFL legislators at that point. Here’s one last warning shot at the DFL:

Strong differences of opinion exist regarding transportation funding. But we all agree on one thing- that we cannot continue the stalemate that has existed for three decades. I remain hopeful we can overcome the politics and rhetoric of this debate and pass a bipartisan transportation bill this session.

He then finishes with this uplifting flourish:

Right behind me, the Mississippi River flows gently by St. Cloud. About a hundred miles or so north of here, it’s a creek you can walk across. More than a thousand miles to the south, it’s miles across. It’s a river that’s always changing, making its way around every obstaclee in its path to the sea.

Like our river, Minnesota starts humbly but has an unstoppable forward momentum toward greatness. We’re the Headwaters State, justly proud of all the amazing things that have started here for 150 years.

As the elected leaders of Minnesota, the energy of our people moves us forward. We need to stay within the banks of their values. We need to look downstrea and prepare for the challenges we face.

And if we do that together, we’ll be able to say- on the far side of all these current troubles- “Well…we made it.”

Following the speech, I had the opportunity to participate in the Senjem-Seifert press conference. Tom Hauser of KSTP asked whether Leader Seifert could prevent the override of Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of the DFL’s Transportation bill. Leader Siefert confidently said that the veto would be upheld. Leader Senjem & Leader Seifert were asked about taxes in general. Sen. Senjem gave a good answer, saying that we need to keep as much money in people’s pockets as possible. Rep. Seifert chimed in, saying that cutting taxes increases job growth, something that Sen. Senjem immediately & enthusiastically agreed with.

With the Tax Reform Commission soon to be formed, Gov. Pawlenty is putting pressure on the DFL. It’s safe to say that he’ll highlight the DFL’s proclivity for increasing taxes & how that’s creating a negative tax climate in Minnesota.

Check back later for more statements on today’s State of the State Address.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “State of the State Address Impressions”

Leave a Reply