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Pawlenty: The Budget Balanced With Cooked Books

Category: Tim Pawlenty
Posted: 05/06/11 14:51, Edited: 05/06/11 14:52

by Dave Mindeman

During the Faux News debate, Tim Pawlenty answered a question about Minnesota's budget thusly:

Pawlenty: "Every budget during my time as governor was balanced and the last one of those two-year budgets ends this coming summer, on June 30, and it's going to end up in the black. Now, when they talk about this projected deficit coming up in the next two years after that, it assumes a 25 percent or so increase in state spending. That's outrageous. If they live within their means, there would be no deficit at all ? This idea that there's a deficit and I left it in Minnesota is inaccurate."

And of course, Pawlenty is technically correct. The budget has to be balanced as required by our State Constitution (unless that gets amended as well...).

But maybe we should be more precise. Tim Pawlenty left us with a balanced budget that included a variety of IOU's. IOU's on the scale that no other governor in Minnesota has ever done.

First, there is the $1.4 to $1.6 billion that we still owe the school districts from the Pawlenty unallotment. I really enjoyed the banter from candidate Tom Emmer during the campaign in which he said they would hold education harmless. Equally brazen is the rhetoric from House Education chair Pat Garofalo and how proud he is of the House education budget. Neither of them has ever had any intention of finding a way to pay that money back, while schools borrow and pay interest to make up the difference. This IOU has become locked in so heavily that even Governor Dayton sees no path to repayment during the current biennium.

Second, as Faux New analyst Chris Wallace pointed out, Pawlenty utilized $2 billion in stimulus money. And all the while he was holding out that greedy hand, he criticized the Federal government for the offer. But the main issue here is that this money was one time money. Budgets are usually based on continuous revenue streams. Pawlenty had the audacity to stop real revenue streams while utilizing one time money to replace it. Got to give him points for cajones.

In addition, Pawlenty drained the reserve to zero. And even did some cute little budget shifts with delayed payments to scrape the state by during the budget year.

Yes, our illustrious former governor can say that Minnesota's budget was balanced... but, ladies and gentleman, the books were cooked.
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