Gov. Tim Pawlenty took another step this week toward running for president in 2012 with the formation of a political action committee.
The move is also an indication that there will be more Pawlenty trips outside the state with increasing frequency.
Despite Pawlenty's promise to finish his second term of governor "strong," he is now leaving the state often on political junkets.
While Pawlenty balanced the latest state budget by cutting various budgets, delaying payments and other financial shifts, the budget problem remains.
The next governor, taking office in early 2011, will likely face a state budget deficit of between $4.5 billion and $7 billion.
Pawlenty also shifted some of his own staff costs to various state agencies in the previous budget year. The Associated Press reported earlier this month that state agencies kicked in $676,000 to support various staff working for the governor's office. In addition, Pawlenty's office also received computer support from the Office of Enterprise Technology.
Moreover, while Pawlenty or others are likely covering his political travel costs outside the state, his state security detail expenses remain a state cost. One would think those costs would be less in Minnesota, compared to Pawlenty trips out of state.
Pawlenty's recent trips are far more important to his possible presidential 2012 aspirations than to his current duties as governor. That is what is becoming more disappointing every week.
The governor's new PAC -- a national fundraising committee -- is called "Freedom First." It could more aptly be called "Minnesota Bye-Bye" or just plain "Minnesota Lame Duck."