The Free Press, Mankato, MN


October 28, 2006

Our View: Hatch fits Minnesota values best

A lot of Minnesotans have been more than a little uncomfortable with the way the state of Minnesota has been run the last four years.

Typically a prudent lot, Minnesotans understood the need to tighten the belt four years ago when the state faced a $4.5 billion deficit. But the ensuing four years seemed to bring out the worst in partisan differences in the state. Residents were uncomfortable that before there could be any real debate about raising revenue or cutting services, a Republican governor and his flock in the House of Representatives decided on cuts.

It wasn’t after a debate, which might have been fine with most folks. But cuts were made because a governor had promised no taxes to a group to which many average Minnesotans pledged no allegiance.

The results of the Pawlenty budget cuts made Minnesotans feel even more uneasy as they watched their neighbors thrown off health insurance, saw their neighborhoods go without needed police and saw funds for the youngest learners severely cut back.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty seemed sincere about his plan, though even his promotion of it seemed to lack Minnesota nice at times, describing those facing real hurt as “victims du jour.”

Beyond an unfair budget process, some of Pawlenty’s proposals seem beyond what even an 1990s Republican Party would have stomached. He called for the state to mandate school spending through his one-size fits all 70 percent solution. Luckily members of his own party defeated this bad idea before it got legs. His proposal for free tuition for college students who do well in high school leaves out other students who deserve tuition relief.

And after all these cuts, we can boast of a better ranking in taxes among states that include places most Minnesotans would not want to live. Minnesotans care about their neighbors more than they care about tax rankings.

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