Monday, August 14, 2006

Giving Hutchinson a look

Faced with a choice between Tim Pawlenty and Mike Hatch as the major-party candidates for governor, I'm leaning toward option #3: Peter Hutchinson.

Hutchinson was Rudy Perpich's Finance Commissioner. He also has had a long career in corporate America and in 1993 was superintendent of the Minneapolis public schools.

He gave a talk at the Humphrey Institute on Thursday; you can listen to the audio here at MPR.

In the talk he discussed "outcome-based" government -- not blindly cutting or raising taxes, but figuring out how best to use the taxes Minnesotans are willing to pay. Giving them their money's worth, in other words.

That's a pleasant generality, of course; the devil is in the details. But he has provided some level-headed details, liks his transportation and health-care proposals.

The latter is especially promising, combining a version of the Romney plan for mandatory health coverage with a shift in reimbursement practices to pay for healthy outcomes, not just procedures performed.

And I liked his promise not to get distracted by side issues. Asked if he would sign a bill loosening abortion restrictions, he said no -- but he also wouldn't sign a bill tightening them. Why? Because such bills are a distraction from the real business of government. You could criticize that as a deft attempt to sidestep a controversial issue. But I like the idea of keeping our eye on the ball and concentrating on accomplishing things that all Minnesotans want and need -- not satisfying partisan constituencies.

Are all of his ideas great ones? No. But at least he has some, not just trotting out the same tired rhetoric like Pawlenty and Hatch are doing. At this point in the game, I'm leaning toward giving him an opportunity to show what he can do.

Find out more: Here's his campaign web site.

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