In December, Fox News’ Eric Bolling presented Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as an example of a conservative politician making tough choices to balance his state’s budget. “A big hole and a simple plan to dig out of it, stop spending,” said Bolling while introducing Pawlenty. “Sounds simple enough. Hold the line on taxes, live within your means. That is how my next guest aims to close his state`s billion-dollar-plus projected budget gap.”
During the interview, Bolling asked Pawlenty about whether he would seek federal stimulus funds to help close his budget gaps. Pawlenty criticzied the idea, claiming that it would “delay the inevitable” by “just sending some cash out as a Band-Aid“:
BOLLING: Governor, what about tapping the federal government? What about tapping the administration, saying, hey, you know, there`s $550 billion in stimulus there we could sure use, about a billion now, to close that budget gap?
PAWLENTY: All that does is delay the inevitable for most states. Forty-eight of 50 states are in the red. Only North Dakota and Montana are escaping for the moment.
Just like the federal government, most states have these structural spending commitments that are not justified by the revenues. It`s just like General Motors. The management and the labor ran up the costs over time to unsustainable levels. The revenues don’t justify it, and the model is broken. And so the model has to be adjusted. It has to be reformed.
And just sending some cash out as a Band-Aid is not going to solve the problem. You are seeing that in California. What you`re seeing in California now and New York, it`s a preview of coming attractions for many states if they don`t change their ways.
Yesterday, Pawlenty revealed his proposal to balance Minnesota’s budget. The proposal would cut “$250 million from aid to cities and counties and $347 million from health and human services programs” while lowering taxes for businesses. The Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that “nearly one-third of the governor’s budget fix would rely on $387 million in federal stimulus money. That money isn’t yet in the bank and, if it doesn’t come through, the cuts could be far deeper.”
This isn’t the first time that Pawlenty’s actions have contradicted his words regarding the stimulus. Last August, Pawlenty told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt that most of the stimulus money was “misdirected” and “largely wasted” on projects that won’t create jobs. But weeks before Pawlenty’s comments, his own economic development director went on a 10 city road show titled “Advancing Economic Prosperity” touting the benefits of the stimulus. “Communities and job-seekers throughout Minnesota are seeing tangible results from this funding,” said Dan McElroy, Pawlenty’s “point man on jobs and economic development.”