Looking for leadership

Gov. Pawlenty must make good on campaign promises of compromise.

Throughout the legislative session, Gov. Pawlenty has been inking up his “veto” stamp, and as the remaining days of the session dwindle down, it’s looking like he’ll be using it quite a bit. On Tuesday, the governor vetoed a $334 million capital investments bill, which included $36 million in funding for repairs and renovations for University buildings. His reasoning was that the bill is too expensive and he requested the Legislature bring him a lighter one.

While those funds would be a great benefit to the University, Pawlenty’s reasoning seems fair, as the bill included too much pork to be acceptable to most Minnesotans. But this is just the beginning, and the governor has repeatedly threatened that any and all bills that include a tax increase will face the same fate.

When Gov. Pawlenty was running for re-election, he struck a more conciliatory tone than he had his past four years as governor and promised leadership to the state. Now Pawlenty has an opportunity to show who he wants to be: the candidate who promised moderation and results, or the obstructionist-in-chief serving only the narrowest interests of his party.

One of the most talked-about proposals that might face a veto has been the new tax on the state’s highest income earners. What’s talked about less is that the new bracket only affects the wealthiest 1 percent of Minnesotans, while 90 percent, including homeowners, renters and farmers, will see property tax relief as a result. In addition, recent studies have concluded that the wealthiest Minnesotans already pay a smaller percent of their income in taxes than the middle class, and this proposal would bring more tax fairness, not less, to the current system.

Granted, both the Legislature and the governor will have to make concessions for a compromise to be worked out, but for right now, the governor doesn’t seem willing to budge. The last thing the state needs is another special session, and the governor should show a willingness to work with his fellow elected representatives instead of using his pulpit to grandstand against taxes.