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Governor Pawlenty slammed on last day of Minnesota legislative session

By Linden Gawboy |
May 18, 2010
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Protesters chanting Hey Pawlenty! Here’s the fix: Undo your cuts. Tax the rich!
“Hey Pawlenty! Here’s the fix: Undo your cuts. Tax the rich!” (Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco)

St. Paul, MN – “You need a permit to do that,” the cops told the group of women writing last-minute posters outside Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s office, May 17. The posters were in preparation for the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout event on the last day of the Minnesota legislative session.

A few hours earlier, the state government passed a budget that stole billions of dollars from programs for the poor, working people and disabled children, including massive amounts from education, TANF and health care. The Coalition members had little patience for the governor’s cops telling them what to do. After some words were exchanged, the cops were ignored and the women continued with the signs. One read, “Pawlenty = Criminal.”

May 17 marked Pawlenty’s last day as governor during a legislative session. This is Pawlenty’s last term, as he is running for U.S. President. The Coalition’s call for the event noted, “Since 2003, Governor Pawlenty has been systematically, irresponsibly and selfishly destroying Minnesota. On the last day of the 2010 legislative session, we know that we will be again staring into the face of another disaster, created by the governor. We won’t let him slink away from this session in silence.”

Accordingly, every time the doors to the Governor’s reception room opened, the group chanted, “Hey Pawlenty! Here’s the fix: Undo your cuts. Tax the rich!” The cops didn’t like that either, since their boss was inside the gilded reception room, giving his final end-of-session press conference.

The statement noted, “The Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout formed on Oct. 29, 2008 and has called for the state of to work on the real problems that face poor and working people during this time of economic crisis: put a moratorium on foreclosures, no cuts to programs that help people during hard times, no layoffs, and ‘jobs or income now.’ While some legislators have supported those demands, most then said that their hands were tied because of the Governor. Whether that is true or not, it is clear that Pawlenty has imposed a reign of terror at the capitol since he took office.”

Cherrene Horazuk, member of AFSCME Local 3800, a Coalition member group, stated: “Every year Pawlenty has dug the hole deeper, expecting the people to bail him out.”

Deb Konechne said, “During all these years, the rich have not paid one dime to solve the state budget deficits. In the big picture, they got richer by making us poorer – by stealing our homes, laying us off, shredding the safety net and by amassing wealth through their fat-cat tax breaks. It is long past time for them to pay.” Konechne is a member of the Welfare Rights Committee, another member group of the Coalition.

After the governor’s press conference was over and as the media was streaming out, Bailout members kept the chant going steadily.

As the Coalition members were packing to leave, some haggled with the cops again, in an attempt to officially deliver some of the protest signs to the Governor Pawlenty, including one that read, “Pawlenty jumps ship from a drowning Minnesota.”

A couple of protesters got lucky. As they were exiting the capitol, they looked down from the top of the steps. There was the Governor and his henchmen on their way to a waiting SUV in the back parking lot. The chanting began again, “Hey Pawlenty! Here’s the fix: Undo your cuts. Tax the rich!” The SUV took off to the taunts of “Criminal!” The Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout is satisfied that Governor Pawlenty did not “slink away from this session in silence.”