I just returned from spending a week in snowy Minnesota, nursing my college roommate after her stroke. Over coffee each morning we read the headlines…and I found that the similarities go well beyond our respective snow levels.
Their Governor Tom Pawlenty, like our Governor Jim Douglas, just made his final budget address, and the natives are restless. Pawlenty has made it clear in word and deed that their state – long a progressive leader in social and political causes – has neglected the economic engines that support such initiatives. He’s calling for lawmakers and the public to get behind his proposed cuts to social programs and support investments in economic development.
The television ads there run expensive campaigns by the education lobby to support current levels of funding for education. And if there’s one thing Minnesotans value, it’s their educational institutions, which are diverse and successful. My friend’s children have all gone to a performing arts magnet high school. And, as I took her to her physical therapy appointments each day, I marveled at the depth, breadth and vitality of the health care industry in Minnesota as well.
Cuts here in Vermont or there in Minnesota aren’t easy, but it seems the more difficult process in both states is in convincing people to get behind investments in economic engines.