Pawlenty discusses his platform for governor election

Published 9:44 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he wants to help reduce escalating health insurance premiums, cut taxes for the middle class and modernize the state’s economy if he is elected governor again.

Pawlenty made the comments Monday in a visit to the Tribune.

Tim Pawlenty

He expressed support for ending the state tax on Social Security benefits and introducing more vocational and technical training to high schools. He noted two-year college graduates sometimes earn more than four-year degree holders.

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“We’ve got too many people who are getting left behind because of lack of skill or lack of education that’s relevant to the trends that are taking place in the economy,” he said.

Pawlenty hopes vocational and technical training in high schools will align more with two-year colleges, and he supports the introduction of an apprenticeship program.

“Better highlighting and better promoting and better creating the option of vocational and technical training is a big part of what I want to do, and I think that will serve our economy well,” he said. “I think it will serve our workforce well.”

Pawlenty said he did not plan to run for governor if another GOPer emerged as a favorite, but that did not happen.   

“I let them know last year that could be the case, and unfortunately or fortunately that turned out to be the case,” he said. “They didn’t get momentum, they didn’t get traction, and so I decided to get in the race because it didn’t look like they were on a pathway to win in November.

“I thought they needed a stronger candidate.”

Pawlenty, Minnesota’s governor from 2003 to 2011, said he hoped his background, name recognition and the strength of his message would help make him a successful governor in another tenure. He expressed confidence that he can avoid the gridlock that has plagued recent legislative sessions.

“I’m at the point of my career where I can take more risk,” he said. “I think I can use my experience and my strength to be able to take some hits and use that as a way to forge some common ground.”

Pawlenty pledged to not take any questionnaires or make any pledges to interest groups.

He said though the state has a low unemployment rate, a lot of available jobs are lower-paying, part-time positions.

Pawlenty said economic opportunities need to be distributed more evenly throughout the state, noting more than 50 of Minnesota’s 87 counties have fewer employees than they did 10 years ago.

Pawlenty claimed farmers were not invited as equal partners in the process of forming new buffer requirements.

“The current (Dayton) administration did not treat the farmers well in that discussion,” he said.

Pawlenty advocated “fairly” paying farmers for land lost complying with the new requirements.

He said Greater Minnesota needs a proper balance of single- and multi-family housing.

“One of the things we can do for Albert Lea and everybody across the whole state is make sure our educational system is effective in getting people ready for employment,” he said.

To Pawlenty, implementing work requirements for able-bodied public assistance participants is also important in filling the area’s workforce shortage.

“The idea that you can kind of stay home indefinitely on public assistance is not healthy for the people who are receiving that,” he said. “It’s also not healthy for government budgets or for the broader economy or society. Part of … getting the workforce optimized is to make sure people who are on public assistance programs — if they are able-bodied and if they are able-minded — have a requirement that they be preparing for work or are looking for work.”

Pawlenty is running for the GOP nomination against Lance Johnson, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Naval Reserve intelligence officer Phillip Parrish.

Declared DFL candidates for governor are 64A Rep. Erin Murphy, Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto and 1st District U.S. Rep. Tim Walz.

Pawlenty said there are “dramatic philosophical differences,” between the DFL Party and GOP on issues ranging from taxes, health care, education and illegal immigration. He took issue with the approach of DFLers to education spending, which he said includes additional spending without accountability.

Pawlenty said his experience separates him from other GOP candidates, which he said included appointing the first “common-sense conservative Supreme Court,” cutting taxes and spending, using market-based approaches to health care, cracking down on illegal immigration and standing up for farmers.

“There’s people always saying what they want to do,” he said. “I actually did it.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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