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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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Thursday, May 8, 2008
Northwest Airlines: Merging with Delta Airlines and moving headquarters out of Minnesota. Medtronic: Cutting 350 Minnesota jobs. 3M: Constantly rumored (at least in Capitol quarters) to be considering leaving our state. At what point will the Legislature realize that it’s oppressive tax conditions, and its reluctance to lure and keep good employers in Minnesota, is causing our state’s job climate to suffer? The Medtronic news comes on the heels of the Minnesota House approving taxes legislation that would eliminate our Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) program, one of the most successful plans Minnesota has ever implemented in terms of attracting new businesses to rural Minnesota. The non-partisan Tax Foundation ranks Minnesota's business tax climate at 42nd in the nation. The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council ranks states from best to worst in terms of the costs of their tax systems on entrepreneurship and small business. It used 16 different tax measures, and combines those into one tax score. Minnesota is ranked 49th. The economy is hurting. Businesses are leaving. Jobs are being lost. We have to reverse this tide by creating a better business environment in this state. Raising property taxes on business owners and eliminating tax exemptions from those who are currently providing jobs won’t make this happen. At some point, this Legislature needs to realize that the way to turn our economy around is not to raise taxes on Minnesotans in order to balance the books; it is to put more Minnesotans to work and improve their financial standing. Yet as our session draws to a close, it does not look like job creation policies will be part of the end-game equation. ROAD CONSTRUCTION SEASON It’s that time of year again: Road construction season. Transportation is a top priority of mine, and I have had discussions with MnDOT to encourage the department to make Highways 61 and 60 a priority when it comes to future road improvement. Here’s what I learned: Highway 60 from Kenyon to Highway 52, will have a mill and overlay project beginning sometime after July 1, 2009. This summer, MnDOT is planning to place some thin overlays over the worst areas of Highway 61 and patching other areas in order to help make for a smoother drive. In 2009, the northbound lanes of Highway 61 from Highway 248 north to Highway 42 (roughly Minnesota City to Kellogg) is scheduled be resurfaced. Northbound and southbound lanes from Highway 248 south to Highway 14 (Winona to Minnesota City) is also scheduled to be resurfaced in 2009. As for this summer, MnDOT has a handful of projects scheduled for our area, and I thought I’d share them with you so you can plan your drive accordingly. • Highway 14 west of Stockton in Winona County - repair backslope and blast rock. June - September. Expect temporary road closures and daily lane closures with flaggers. • Old Highway 61 over Garvin Brook in Minnesota City - replace bridge and approaches. May - October. This road will be closed. • Highway 74 in St. Charles, west of the Highway 14 junction to the east limits of Elba - resurface project. May-July. Expect daily lane closures with flaggers.
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