Pawlenty Orders State To Skip Federal Health Funds

Gov. Tim Pawlenty today ordered his administration to do whatever it can to keep out of a federal health care program enacted earlier this year.

Democrats planned to react to the Pawlenty executive order after being critical of his earlier decision to not take $850,000 in federal sex education grants for the state’s schools and local health organizations.

Pawlenty issued his executive order this afternoon, saying that the federal act was passed “with massive new spending commitments at a time when the growing federal government debt threatens private sector economic growth.” He said money needed to fund the act would come from higher taxes.

“It should be a no-brainer,” Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said about taking federal money. “Unfortunately, this is just more evidence the Governor has lost interest in being our governor.”

Some Democrats say he made the decision to please conservative interests within his Republican Party. Pawlenty appears to be considering a presidential campaign in 2012.

Pawlenty’s order bars anyone in his administration from seeking federal funds under the health care act unless required by law.

While the governor turned down $850,000 in sex-education money, he did accept other federal funds to teach sexual abstinence. The grant he rejected requires no state money, but the one for which he did apply would require a state matching contribution.