Pioneer Editorial: State of State good kickoff for campaign
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in giving his annual State of the State address on Thursday, spoke well of a vision for a future Minnesota, that "we must innovate and offer our people a new level of freedom, choice and opportunity."...
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in giving his annual State of the State address on Thursday, spoke well of a vision for a future Minnesota, that "we must innovate and offer our people a new level of freedom, choice and opportunity."
The Republican governor outlined a handful of goals for a better Minnesota, including an education system not only nation-leading but world-leading, a health care system available and affordable to everyone, the best place to start and grow innovative businesses and jobs, a place which is the safest in the nation to live, and one where racial disparities are removed in education, housing and health care. Also, a state which has "conquered" chronic homelessness, doubled its use of renewable energy, a place where "water pollution only appears in the history books."
But the governor then fails to deliver a clear path on how we reach those goals, let alone how the state allocates its scarce resources to solve these problems which are not newcomers to the governor's first three years in office. He spent in inordinate amount of time citing specifically 16 accomplishments of those first three years, from school report cards for parents to doubling the state's ethanol standard. The list was topped by changing the state's budget from a $4.5 billion deficit to a $1 billion surplus.
With only a short session of the Legislature -- it must end by May 22 -- the speech lacked a roadmap to reach a conclusion with a concise agenda. Rather, Gov. Pawlenty's speech sounded more like his re-election campaign kickoff. But, then, would that not be unexpected? With a statewide platform, and his not yet "officially" being a declared candidate, the State of the State offers a unique stump opportunity to ramp up an agenda for another four years.
His speech included a lot of loose ends which no one is expected to tackle this session, and can only be part of a second-term agenda. Ideas such as developing a model Chinese language curriculum available to every school district, to pilot projects offering Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs to all students in all grades, to transitioning small health care providers to an interconnected electronic medical record system, to calling for an energy goal of "25-by-25" -- that 25 percent of all types of Minnesota's energy come from renewable sources by 2025.
These are laudable programs worthy of debate, but not now.
What was nearly wholly missing from the governor's speech was talk of a major state building projects bonding bill, the real cornerstone of the 2006 session. He did elicit support for $200 million in bonding in his nearly $900 million bill for conservation, the outdoors and parks, which should receive a priority. But so should also millions for higher education projects, which will also create jobs, and a myriad of other projects which need support.
The governor's speech was positive, upbeat, speaking of Minnesota as a "lighthouse state," but a Part 2 will be needed to put meat on the bones.