Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pawlenty: Say one thing, do another

During the last four years, Governor Pawlenty has done a masterful job of positioning himself in the political center, at least in the minds of voters. If you didn't actually look at his record, but focused on his news releases and press conferences, you'd see a governor who is protecting the environment, bringing reform to our public schools, and largely trying to stay out of the fray in terms of hot button issues like gay marriage, abortion and immigration. Never mind that his actual governance paints a different picture.

Which is why it should come as no surprise that in accepting his party's endorsement yesterday, his true right wing extremist colors came shining through. Are these the words of a moderate?:

"I can tell you what your worst nightmare is. It's one of the big-spendin', tax-raisin', abortion-promotin', gay marriage-embracin', more welfare-without-accountability lovin', school reform-resistin', illegal immigration-supportin' Democrats for governor who think Hillary Clinton should be president of the United States."

It's typical I suppose for politicians to run to their base when they're getting endorsed and when they're up for re-election. But Pawlenty's mad dash into the arms of right-wingers in pretty shameless, and hopefully the voters will recognize that the words he spoke during his first term in office and the manner by which he has governed are in contrast with one another.


A personal example of this happened yesterday, in signing the supplemental budget bill and more specifically, his line item veto of a quality improvement and rating system (QIRS) for child care (personal because my boss was the author of this particular provision and I worked on getting it included in the bill). Back in early March, the Governor proposed $10 million to improve transparency and accountability in early childhood programs. A piece of the package improved quality of early childhood programs by "assist[ing] child-care providers in developing curricula based on early learning guidelines."

Well, his overall proposal died in the House of Representatives--controlled by republicans, so you would think he'd have no trouble getting it passed there, right?--and as we worked on the QIRS proposal, never once did anyone from his office voice objections or raise concerns. As we headed into the final days of the session and late-night negotiations, never once did anyone from his office voice objections or raise concerns about it. No, I suppose it's easier to just veto something, rather than have a discussion and work out the problems.

It's especially unfortunate because the QIRS is a good program, developed by parents and providers, and the legislation was simply a pilot program to evaluate its effectiveness. So much for results and accountability. Thanks Tim for your reasonable and thoughtful consideration.

The Star Tribune has a good article on the veto, and you can learn more about the QIRS at Ready 4K's website, one of the organizations who worked on its development.

And so the hypocrisy continues...157 days until we can elect a new governor.

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