Thursday, June 29, 2006

On waking up in the Twilight Zone...

In a move that befuddles me more than I thought I could ever have been befuddled:
Minnesota’s top high school graduates would receive two years of free tuition at state colleges and universities under a plan announced Tuesday by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The Academic Competitiveness Highlighting Individual Excellence and Valuing Education program would reward students who graduate in the top 25 percent of their high school classes or achieve high scores on ACT tests.

Students in families with an annual gross income of $150,000 or less would be eligible for ACHIEVE. Minnesota’s median household income in 2003 was $52,823, according to the Census Bureau.

ACHIEVE also would reward students who pursue math or science degrees with the chance to get an additional two years of free tuition at any public Minnesota post-secondary institution.

“It will provide a powerful incentive for high school students not to slack off,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty flew to St. Cloud Regional Airport to deliver the news along with Minnesota Department of Higher Education Director Susan Heegaard, who would administer the program if it passes the Legislature. (emphases added)
Err... I guess the era of big government has made a return to the State of Minnesota. Not that "free" tuition (don't you love it when politicians use the word, "free" to describe additional confiscations from taxpayer wallets?) would be a bad thing if you can get it. But why stop there? Lets just run the table and offer "free" Lamborghinis to every graduate of Pawlenty's plan that graduates college (after "free" tuition, of course) in the top 25 percent? Hell--let's give them "free" mansions on Lake Minnetonka, as long as we're shootin' the moon here.

Hell, we'll even have Robin Leach give a "Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!" type commencement speech, and have Ricardo Montelban and Herve Vallachaise welcome them to Fantasy Island.

Just how does the governor think he's going to pay for "free tuition"?

Pawlenty said the ACHIEVE program can accommodate 15,000-16,000 students, and he plans to include it in his next budget proposal to the Legislature. It is estimated to cost $112 million in the next biennium. Funding would come from the budget surplus, Pawlenty said.
And just why is there a "budget surplus"? Because we, the taxpayers, are paying more in taxes than the government is using! So what is the answer to fix this problem? Do we give that extra money back to those who worked to put it in there in the first place? Hell NO! We just grow the government til there's no more surplus! That's the Republican way of doing things, isn't it?

I guess it is, after you wake up--in the Twilight Zone.

Okay, "Mr. Governor"--just who the hell are you and what have you done with Tim Pawlenty?

Pawlenty came into office as a small government absolutist, but he's since wavered. While remaining steadfast to his no-new-taxes pledge, which probably won him the election, Pawlenty has been shifting course to favor financing a wide array of middle-class-friendly public amenities, such as stadiums and a pricey commuter rail system.
Something tells me that this latest pork offering will not necessarily seal his credentials as a small government conservative, either.

Definitely not a "Let's energize the base!" move.


Economist King Banaian has more regarding the economic aspects of this boondoggle waiting to happen.

(Filed under overtaxed, pass the pork, RINOs, Pawlenty)