TIM PAWLENTY was first elected governor in 2002, with the state facing a $4.5 billion budget deficit—the largest in state history. Just months after Pawlenty took office, the legislature adopted his plan to eliminate the deficit without raising taxes. In 2005, Governor Pawlenty balanced the state budget again without raising taxes. At the end of 2006, it was announced that under Pawlenty’s leadership, Minnesota’s $4.5 billion deficit had been transformed into a $2.2 billion surplus.
Besides bringing Minnesota from historic budget crisis to financial security, Pawlenty fought for and oversaw passage of a dramatic overhaul and improvement of the state's education standards; an $800 million increase in K-12 education spending along with a nation-leading teacher performance pay program; health care reforms that led to a zero percent premium increase in the state insurance program; significant welfare reform; tort liability reform; a range of new government efficiency initiatives; the creation of a nation-leading prescription drug website; and a doubling of the state's ethanol standard to increase use of renewable fuels and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Pawlenty grew up in South St. Paul, Minnesota. The only child in his family to graduate from college, he attended the University of Minnesota and practiced law in the private sector. His public service career includes serving as a criminal prosecutor, Eagan City Councilmember, and ten-year member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, including four years as House Majority Leader. Pawlenty served as Chair of the National Governors Association and on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, the Achieve Inc. Board of Directors, and the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute Board of Directors. He is Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association and is a former chair of the Governors Ethanol Coalition.more » « less