By all accounts, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is more focused on his next career move than anything happening in Saint Paul. As his political ambitions rise, so does the state's budget deficit, which is now tallied at $1.2 billion for the current two-year budget period and $5.4 billion for the next biennium. The Governor has called the state's budget situation "significant but solvable" and once again vowed to fill the state's shortfall without raising taxes. At a time when Minnesotans are as dependent on government services as ever, it seems negligent to once again reduce the number of options that are available to lawmakers working to dig the state out of its budget hole.
And it gets worse.
Apparently, renewing one's "no new taxes pledge" doesn't win you enough brownie points with anti-taxers, so Pawlenty has also recently proposed a deeply flawed constitutional amendment which would limit state spending.
As the Minnesota Budget Project so aptly states, "his Spending Limit Amendment is an extreme and inflexible tool that takes decision-making power out of the hands of the people and their representatives." Where they've been enacted, these sorts of spending limits have had disastrous impacts on a state's ability to educate children and even repair roads.
In most states where proposals like this have been put before voters or legislative bodies, they have failed to actually pass. Let's hope that happens in Minnesota.