Published December 16 2010
Pawlenty talks jobs, growthIn an appearance described as part of a “farewell tour” through Minnesota, outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty visited Moorhead on Wednesday to speak on job creation, the economy and fiscal responsibility in government.
The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce hosted Pawlenty, who praised organizations like the chamber as groups with an opportunity to impact economic policy “at a grass-roots level.”
He said a high quality of life in Minnesota depends on maintaining access to jobs and economic opportunity – a task he said falls to business leaders rather than politicians.
He pointed to unemployment and job growth rates that beat the national average as signs the state is moving in the right direction, but said Minnesota needs to reduce the costs of doing business in the state – taxes, permitting costs, energy costs, worker’s compensation – to remain competitive.
Pawlenty said the fiscal challenges facing government are “mathematically defined” – a phrase he invoked a number of times to emphasize the idea that the current trajectory of government spending is unsustainable. He said compensation for public employees has grown out of line with private-sector compensation and needs to be reined in.
Between his prepared remarks and questions from the audience, Pawlenty touched on a range of topics, including:
- The extension of the Bush tax cuts, as part of a deal between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans that included an extension of unemployment benefits and other stimulus measures. Pawlenty praised the extension of the tax cuts, but said the deal, which will add to the federal deficit, is “not the bill I would have negotiated.”
- Health care reform, including a recent district court ruling in Virginia that struck down the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires most Americans to purchase insurance (other district courts have upheld the law, which will likely wind up under review by the U.S. Supreme Court).
Pawlenty said he was “deeply disappointed in the legislation that passed Congress,” deriding the act as a one-size-fits-all system mired in government bureaucracy. Instead, he favors increasing cost transparency to promote fiscally sound care decisions by consumers.
- Education, which he termed critical to creating skilled workers. He praised efforts to implement performance-based pay for teachers, but cautioned that “there’s a lot of groups who stand in the way of changing and holding our schools accountable.” Pawlenty did not name specific groups, but has clashed with teachers unions in the past.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502