Pawlenty, on campaign trail, stops in Worthington
WORTHINGTON -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty was on the road Friday, visiting Worthington in the first of five stops in communities across southwest Minnesota. Pawlenty arrived at Perkins Restaurant about 9:15 a.m. and made his way around the dining room, sh...
WORTHINGTON -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty was on the road Friday, visiting Worthington in the first of five stops in communities across southwest Minnesota.
Pawlenty arrived at Perkins Restaurant about 9:15 a.m. and made his way around the dining room, shaking hands and visiting with constituents. He then spent between 10 and 15 minutes with local media to discuss issues central to his campaign.
Pawlenty remarked that it was "extremely important" that Minnesotans pass in November the constitutional amendment pertaining to transportation funding. The amendment will dedicate 100 percent of the revenue from the existing motor vehicle sales tax to transportation. At least 40 percent of the revenue would be dedicated for public transit assistance, and no more than 60 percent for highway purposes.
"We're already 20 years behind in our road and bridge infrastructure, so we need it to pass," Pawlenty said of the amendment.
The governor, who is seeking re-election this year for the first time, said he feels he has a strong sense of state residents' concerns.
"I've been traveling Minnesota for the last four years," Pawlenty said.
"First of all, it's important to have your fiscal house in order," he stated. "It's not glamorous work ... but it's important work. We went from an epic crisis in this state back to financial growth in this state and a surplus."
The state was able to experience a fiscal recovery, the governor noted, despite heightened spending -- including what he deemed the largest increase in school funding in a long time.
"We need more funding to schools, but we also need to push for additional accountability for better results," Pawlenty said.
Health care reform is urgently necessary, said Pawlenty, who declared the current system "broken" while promoting his "nation-leading proposal" to bring performance pay to health care. He also discussed the need for economic development throughout the state, particularly in Greater Minnesota.
"I'm very excited about the results of JOBZ (Job Opportunity Building Zones program) for established businesses, but now I want to go to Phase II," Pawlenty explained. "I'm going to ask for legislation to fund some strategic, early tax credits for smaller, early-stage businesses in Greater Minnesota."
Another component of Pawlenty's campaign is promoting the importance of livestock and agriculture to the rural economy. He also touted his administration's renewable energy policies, adding that the bar can be set even higher.
"Besides California and Texas ... we're the third- or fourth-largest producer of wind energy in the country," stated Pawlenty, while noting he would work to build up transmission capacities statewide if re-elected.
The governor, who was joined at Perkins by fellow Republicans Rod Hamilton and Doug Magnus -- both southwest Minnesota state representatives -- also took aim at his DFL rival, Mike Hatch. He accused Hatch, if elected, of introducing billions of dollars in new spending without giving a "realistic" explanation of where the money would come from.
Following his stop in Worthington, Pawlenty made a visit to Santee/Embers in Jackson before moving east to Fairmont, Blue Earth and Albert Lea.