Tim Pawlenty is running for governor…again.
After serving in that role for two terms and then stepping away, Pawlenty opted to run again, announcing earlier this year his intent to throw his name into the hat for the state’s top job.
He came to Redwood Falls April 23 to talk about the issues that are important to him and how he would address them as governor.
“Middle and moderate income families are being squeezed in this state,” said Pawlenty, adding whether that be in healthcare, education or financial areas, the reality is that someone needs to step in and provide them some help.
For Pawlenty, running again was a decision he did not take lightly, adding he knows his announcement is coming late in the process.
He believes his experience, the wisdom he has gained and the strengths as a leader he brings to the table can put him over the top.
“I am in this to win,” he said. “If I didn’t think I could win, I would not have started.”
Pawlenty said he had conversations with other Republicans who are also running for the office, adding he told them if he saw one of them rising to the top he would not get involved.
However, he did not see that happening, and so he announced he was a candidate.
He believes his name recognition alone, as well as his already proven ability to raise funds, will put him over the top.
Pawlenty said the state needs a common sense conservative in the role of governor to help stop things from getting any worse than they are right now.
When it comes to healthcare, Pawlenty said the state has wasted money, adding the legislative auditor for the state has recently shown the state has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to people who do not need it.
“There are holes in the system, and funds are being misdirected and misappropriated, because no one is checking to see if people are really eligible for the money they are receiving,” said Pawlenty. “If I am elected I will work to make sure each dollar is accounted for and that consumers are empowered by having more choices when it comes to their own healthcare.”
Having been raised in South St. Paul, Pawlenty said he knows what it means to struggle, and he was one of the lucky ones to earn a college degree.
What he wants to ensure is that more young people have the chance to get a good education starting at the earliest levels by providing the kind of education reform that ensures teachers have what they need to do their jobs well.
That, he said, means ensuring the degrees prospective teachers are earning are actually preparing them for the classroom and that continued training and development is helping them to actually grow and be even better teachers.
“Teachers are wonderful people who have a hard job,” said Pawlenty, adding, however he believes there is a need for a higher quality of preparation. “A teacher who is licensed to teach in a subject area should be able to demonstrate mastery of that subject.”
Pawlenty said he is also a big believer in providing more opportunities for students to be exposed to jobs that do not require a four-year degree. He said the message that every high-school graduate needs to earn a four-year degree is a mistake, adding there are some very rewarding careers that pay a good wage in some of the skilled trades.
Minnesota, said Pawlenty, has one of the highest tax rates in the country. When he was governor, he worked with the legislature to reduce that tax burden, bringing Minnesota out of the top 10, but in recent years that has all changed adding more of a burden on the state’s taxpayers.
One of the areas Pawlenty said he will work to change is the current tax on Social Security benefits.
“I think taxing Social Security benefits is ridiculous,” said Pawlenty.
He said that issue alone is forcing people to consider moving to another state after they retire, because there they don’t have to pay a tax on the benefit they earned during the years they worked.
Pawlenty believes right now is the perfect time to run for governor, adding having a Republican-led Senate and the potential of a Republican majority in the House would mean the opportunity to get a lot accomplished to make Minnesota a better state.
“There has not been a Republican governor and a Republican majority in the House and the Senate at the same time ever in the history of this state,” said Pawlenty.
He is convinced that can happen in 2018.
Pawlenty said he believes in defending the rights of free speech and will defend the Second Amendment.
He also said he sees the challenges for the childcare industry and thinks there are ways to empower families to make the decision that is best for them.
He said the implementation of the buffers mandate was mishandled, adding there should have been more of a discussion with the state’s farmers to come up with a compromise.
"Minnesota’s farmers are some of the best conservationists,” said Pawlenty.
Pawlenty said he knows he faces a bit of an uphill battle as the state convention is being held soon, but he remains confident that he is the best choice to serve as governor for the next four years, and he thinks in the end Minnesotans will agree.