Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ventura Seriously Defines Reform

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ventura Seriously Defines Reform

Article excerpt

One step forward - two steps back. That is the prospect facing the Reform Party if it follows its spectacular gubernatorial success in Minnesota by nominating Pat Buchanan as its presidential candidate.

The election of Jesse Ventura as Minnesota's governor gave the Reform Party its first big win. More important, it gave the party an opportunity to prove it had a governing agenda.

What does it mean to be Reform? Unfortunately the national media don't always look beneath the glitter to see the substance of the Ventura administration. Just look at his track record.

He selected a cabinet - including several respected Democrats and Republicans - that has been described by editorial writers at major Minnesota newspapers as one of the best cabinets in recent memory. This fulfilled his pledge to pick commissioners based on merit and without regard to party label. In doing so, he set the stage for tripartisan cooperation and signaled to voters that his administration would govern differently.

Mr. Ventura persuaded state legislators to enact an unprecedented sales tax rebate and to reduce income tax rates, while at the same time enlarging the state's rainy day fund. Most taxpayers have already received rebate checks of between $250 and $2,200.

These accomplishments delivered on Ventura's promise to impose fiscal discipline by giving back to the taxpayers any surplus revenues and to apply fiscal prudence by strengthening the budget reserve.

He also submitted - and ultimately signed into law - a budget that held the line on most areas of state spending, while dedicating 70 percent of new spending to public education. In doing so, Ventura honored his commitment to make education his top policy priority, a priority that he emphasized during his campaign by selecting school teacher Mae Schunk as his running mate.

In all, Ventura has governed as a centrist. His views and his policies reflect tolerance on social issues and prudence on fiscal matters - just the combination that Minnesota voters were looking for, but could never find, in the Democratic or Republican parties.

Ventura may be a celebrity, but, unlike Ross Perot at the national level, he has done much to move Reform beyond personality to substance. …

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