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Interstate cooperation must go beyond rhetoric

A month ago, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced Minnesota was pulling out of income-tax reciprocity with Wisconsin, there was disappointment and frustration from residents and legislators in both states.

At the beginning of this year, Pawlenty and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle held press conferences in our region talking about a new spirit of interstate cooperation that could help each state.

I applauded Doyle for his initiative and offered my full support, outlining a number of issues where we could problem-solve across state lines. I had hoped we could advance initiatives that would position our region for economic growth. It was refreshing to see bipartisanship across state lines working for the common good.

But talk must turn into action.

It is interesting to note the Council on State Governments is promoting, as part of its annual conference in California this November, a seminar on "How Governors Tim Pawlenty and Jim Doyle came together to develop a truly unique and out-of-the-box approach to interstate cooperation."

Again, where are the results?

While state lawmakers from both parties and both states have taken unprecedented action in calling for the governors to get back to the table and negotiate a deal, both governors have been non-responsive. So while interstate cooperation has been and is being touted, the fact remains the governors have failed to maintain a critical agreement between the states. Tens of thousands of border crossers will be adversely affected .

The governors need to make reality match their rhetoric; but I fear they won't do it alone. Tell them what you think. Doyle can be reached by calling (608) 266-1212 and Pawlenty can be reached by calling (651) 296-3391.

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