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Governors Doyle and Pawlenty make a joint appearance in Hudson

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, left, and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle met in Hudson Friday and announce continuing cooperation to help protect the St. Croix River which borders both states.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced continuing collaborative efforts to reduce runoff of pollutants into the St. Croix River in a joint appearance in Hudson on Friday afternoon.

After the gathering on Picnic Point of the St. Croix Marina, the governors took a 20-minute pontoon ride on the river.

Speaking first, Doyle, a Democrat, listed ways in which Wisconsin and Minnesota have been, and will be, cooperating to protect the two states' shared water bodies.

The joint work by Wisconsin and Minnesota on the St. Croix River is a long-standing model for the expanding collaboration that the governors launched this year, their offices said in joint news release.

The governors signed executive orders on Jan. 13 directing their cabinet agencies to work with their counterparts across the border to find ways for the two states to collaborate.

Doyle said the result was a nation-leading effort to share services and become more efficient through cooperation between the states.

The news release said the states are working on more than 80 projects to save money and improve government operations.

"Our joint efforts are showing the nation that political boundaries mean nothing when we can work together to save taxpayer money and deliver services better," Pawlenty said. "Whether it's working together to improve water quality, swapping fish fingerlings or offering employment opportunities to semi-retired quarterbacks, Minnesota and Wisconsin are building on our already close relationship."

Doyle and Pawlenty, a Republican considered to a likely presidential candidate in 2012, needled each other good-naturedly over the prospect of longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre becoming a Minnesota Viking.

Doyle said that Wisconsin, in a spirit of cooperation, was willing to part with a great quarterback past his prime, knowing that it has another talented quarterback ready to take his place.

The governors also announced that the joint project to protect the St. Croix River is being expanded to the St. Louis River between Duluth and Superior.

The two states plan to save $1 million over the next eight years while also protecting and improving the water quality of the St. Louis, they said.

Doyle was accompanied by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matthew Frank and Tourism Secretary Kelli Trumble.

The 1:30 p.m. news conference with Pawlenty was Doyle's second appearance of the day in Hudson.

He started the day off with a community breakfast at Hudson Bagel and Coffee Co.

The purpose of the breakfast meeting, his staff said, was to hear directly from the people of the area.

Part of what he heard was dissatisfaction with his leadership of the state.

The first table of breakfast-goers he stopped by when arriving at the coffee shop was a group of women unhappy about taxes and government spending. One of the women said that states like Texas that don't have an income tax are doing better economically, and not losing jobs, like Wisconsin is.

"I think we can argue whether Texas is growing or not," the governor replied. "Compared to some other parts of the country they may be doing all right, but the whole economy is contracting. If you're going to have schools and you're going to have good services, you need to have a tax base. And the states that have a mixed tax base - sales and income and business - have done better generally in this downturn than those that have just (one tax)."

One of the women asked how the state budget promoted job growth.

He said that it includes a 10 percent payroll tax credit for any tech business than increases its workforce and gives other companies a tax credit for maintaining their current level of employment.

Meme Fehr, owner of the Sandeen Insurance agency, said a law requiring higher coverages for automobile insurance would increase the price of insurance.

Hudson School District Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten expressed concern about a change in the state's binding arbitration law for schoolteachers and districts that, according to her, no longer requires arbiters to consider the economic conditions in a particular district.

She also was unhappy about a 10-percent reduction, $2.7 million, in state aid for the Hudson district in 2009-10.

Doyle said federal stimulus money would make up for the loss in state aid.

In a brief address to the crowd of around 100, Doyle talked about the severity of the economic downturn and how the state government is responding to it.

He said state income tax revenue was down 35 percent earlier this year.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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