Pawlenty gives last state of the state address

Pawlenty is finishing out his eighth year as governor of Minn.

by Mackenzie Martin

Talk of job creation and tax cuts filled the House chamber in the state Capitol Thursday when Gov. Tim Pawlenty delivered his eighth and final State of the State address to members of the Legislature. Pawlenty pushed job creation as means to an economic recovery and said the stateâÄôs strict business tax system is costing Minnesota jobs. He outlined six elements of a job creation bill he said will encourage job growth and signal to businesses that Minnesota is moving in a pro-growth direction. âÄúItâÄôs a no brainer,âÄù Pawlenty said of his proposal intended to lure businesses into the state, which included corporate tax cuts and small business tax exemptions of up to 20 percent and incentives for investing in local industry . A surprise to DFL lawmakers, the governor made almost no mention of the looming state budget deficit âÄî which he is expected to announce his recovery plan for on Monday. His only mention of it was in calling the stateâÄôs budgeting practices âÄúbackwards,âÄù and saying future spending shouldnâÄôt exceed revenue. âÄúWe should spend only what we have, not what we hope to have,âÄù Pawlenty said. Pawlenty alluded that MondayâÄôs budget proposal will likely draw criticism from DFLers, but said he will be open to suggestions. Pawlenty did not talk about higher education provisions in his speech, but cuts to higher education systems will be on the table Monday. Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher expressed concern over the speechâÄôs lack of focus on the budget, calling the issue the âÄúbiggest thing weâÄôre all interested in,âÄù in a DFL press conference after the address. âÄúWe didnâÄôt hear a lot of details today,âÄù Kelliher said. âÄúTo me, it sounds like the axe is back as a budget cutting tool.âÄù Pawlenty touched only briefly on his controversial use of unallotment powers, asking legislators to support his move to single-handedly balance the state budget after the session ended last year, cutting funding for GAMC and other state-aid programs. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller called the speech âÄúboiler plate Tim Pawlenty,âÄù and said it was one heâÄôs heard before. Pogemiller said he thought it was a good decision for Pawlenty not to run for governor again, and said the LegislatureâÄôs relationship with Pawlenty has been an âÄúunsuccessful marriage.âÄù Pogemiller also said the governor has not been emotionally invested in his ideas, and said, âÄúHeâÄôs got to do the job heâÄôs got now to be successful in his new career.âÄù Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina , said the governorâÄôs speech set a good tone for the Legislature session and looks forward to working with him. âÄúHeâÄôs a force,âÄù Michel said of the governor. âÄúHeâÄôs the smartest guy in the room and weâÄôre going to miss him.âÄù