The Minnesota Free Market Institute Weekly Update
Friday, May 22, 2009

The Governor’s Veto Pen is a Powerful Tool for Change

Now that all the drama of the end of the legislative session is over, Governor Pawlenty is meeting quietly with his cabinet and closest advisors to do what Senator Pogemiller and Speaker Kelliher failed to do-balance the budget without  massive tax increases.  The Governor has repeatedly promised that he will not increase the tax burden on Minnesota families and businesses because he knows that to do so would create a worse economic climate for our state.

Aside from keeping our state from sliding further down the rankings of competitiveness and prosperity, the Governor should consider this moment to be a special opportunity to use the veto pen and unallotment to reform, not just cut the needed numbers from programs.  He should use this chance to get rid of unnecessary programs, boards and departments.  This is a time for setting priorities. We should be defining what are the essential activities of government as opposed to the unnecessary, just as many Minnesotans are doing in their homes and businesses.

There has been lots of talk at the Federal level about “using” the economic crisis to enact broader legislation and to expand government programs and spending.  Governor Pawlenty has the opportunity to do the opposite, to make the case for limited government that does not impede an economic recovery and enables us to be competitive with states that have already seen the benefits of less regulation and lower taxes.

This is the moment when real change can occur. If he makes good on his promise, it could be Governor Pawlenty’s lasting legacy.

Pat Anderson is President of the Minnesota Free Market Institute

Budget Hawks Storm the Capitol

Thank you to all of you who showed up at the “Storm the Capitol” rally on Monday. The legislators and others who participated were very thankful of the supporters who took the time to come out. It was a smaller turnout than expected, but the media coverage was excellent. Take a look at WCCO’s story herePowerline blog also did a great post summarizing the legislative session and included footage of the rally.  Thanks Again!
Adam Axvig is the Webmaster of the Minnesota Free Market Institute.

Balanced Budget is Tough Love for Government

The big news this week, of course, is that the plans to raise tax rates aren’t going to see the light of day. Great. Minnesota is already a high-tax state, to the peril of our economy and political culture.

Congratulations to Governor Pawlenty for doing a great impersonation of President George H.W. Bush, and doing him one better. Bush famously said “Read my lips: No new taxes,” and then … raised taxes.

The governor has once gone back on that pledge, trying to call an increase in cigarette taxes a “fee” rather than a tax. But he has been solid in keeping marginal income tax rates from soaring.

It looks like much of the balancing will be done, once again, through gimmicks (delaying payments) and magic (federal “stimulus” money) rather than a reasoned, thoughtful consideration of what the state should do and what it should not. In the business world, many companies are deciding what they should do, what they shouldn’t do, and simply discarding tasks that aren’t central to their success. Would that government does the same. Then again, we’re talking about politics here, not business.

I feel sorry-OK, almost sorry-for local officials, who may see reduced money coming from the state capitol in the new fiscal year. Currently, however, state government does too much to subsidize local government: The people who spend the money at the local level don’t face full political accountability for their actions, since someone else (the Legislature and governor) is making the decisions on the revenue side.

One unfortunate outcome of the session is that the police can now stop people simply for not wearing a seatbelt. (Should you wear one? Yes. Should government require it? No.) DFL Rep. Kim Norton of Rochester, sponsored the bill and defended it this way: “Our law enforcement officers are tired of going to an accident and having to clean up the mess that’s left there, the heartbreaking results of people that are ejected from their cars and killed needlessly.”

Here’s a tip for both Rep. Norton and would-be law enforcement officers: If you’re upset about “mess” in this life, don’t go into law enforcement! Rep. Norton’s argument stands “public service” on its head, compelling us to do something for the benefit of our “public servants.”

John LaPlante is a Policy Fellow at the Minnesota Free Market Institute

Must Reads

Bjorn Lomberg. The Climate Industrial Complex. The Wall Street Journal
Scientist Bjorn Lomberg was one of the first climate change skeptics in Europe. Here he details the “unholy alliance” between big business and big government that will cost all of us millions while creating windfall profits for a few.

In Case You Missed It from the Minnesota Free Market Institute

John LaPlante State House Call

King Banaian SCSU Scholars

Adam Axvig

The Minnesota Free Market Institute Weekly Update is edited by Margaret Martin

The Minnesota Free Market Institute conducts research and advocates for
policy that limits government involvement in individual affairs and
promotes competition and consumer choice. By analyzing the actions of
the past and applying the enduring lessons of the free market, the
Minnesota Free Market Institute creates policy options for the future.
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In This Issue
The Governor’s Veto Pen is a Powerful Tool for Change
Budget Hawks Storm the Capitol
Balanced Budget is Tough Love for Government
Must Reads
In Case You Missed it from the Minnesota Free Market Institute
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