If ever there were a trial balloon that deserved to be shot down it was the one floated earlier this month by Sen. Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine, calling for the use of a presumed $924 million state rebate to be used as an endowment for one-time needs.
Moe's idea is so ludicrous that some might contend he must have enlisted the help of Larry and Curly to come up with the scheme.
A recently enacted "settle-up" provision of state law calls for the money to be returned to taxpayers. Although some contend the law doesn't explicitly call for a rebate it's clear the law's intent is for that portion of the state's expected $3 billion surplus to go back to the taxpayers.
Minnesota already has a rainy day fund to deal with emergencies. Even if the projects Moe would spend the rebate money on are good ones, his idea reinforces the truism that politicians will dream up as many initiatives as needed to spend whatever money is available to them.
As House Speaker Steve Sviggum points out state government has taken in more money than it has required for years. Forecasts of revenue surpluses have become almost expected in recent years. It's clear that the combination of a booming economy and state tax policies has resulted in the state consistently overtaxing its citizens.
Politically, Moe's endowment idea is dead on arrival. Even in the DFL Senate it's unlikely that Moe will find any support for his plan. The Legislature should waste no time in sending the rebate money back to the citizens who earned it in the first place.
As key player in state's economy Northwest's actions are worrisome
It seems a strange question to ask about a large corporation, but it has to be asked: Does Northwest Airlines have a death wish?
The question isn't as flippant as it seems.
This past winter, Northwest generated an avalanche of bad publicity by leaving a planeload of passengers marooned for hours on the tarmac in Detroit.
After that experience, you'd expect the airline to be on its guard to make sure the same thing didn't happen again. Yet, there was Northwest in the news again just this week, again with a planeload of passengers marooned in, again, Detroit.
In fairness, it has to be pointed out that the circumstances weren't exactly the same. This time, the passengers were allowed to get off the plane; some even found other flights. And afterward, Northwest acted quickly to make amends.
Still, the situation was eerily similar to the earlier episode. And, if anything, the airline's initial reaction was worse than last time: When passengers got off the plane at the end of the ordeal, they were met by police officers, who had been summoned because someone had made threatening remarks.
For most people who were not on the planes, this is likely nothing more than another routine story of customer service gone awry. But not here in Minnesota.
For one thing, Minnesotans in general -- and those of us in Duluth in particular -- have a stake in Northwest's success. The state's citizens, after all, joined in the effort to prop up the airline when it was on the ropes a few years ago.
Locally, the community's economic development plans are built in part around a vision of Duluth as a center of aircraft services. Northwest's Airbus service center at the Duluth International Airport is the key to that vision being a successful reality. Beyond that, Duluth and indeed all of Minnesota are dependent on Northwest for the air travel that is crucial to successful local economies.
So bad news for Northwest is ultimately troubling news for this community and this state. And a string of news that can only make travelers wary of Northwest is troubling news indeed.
Presumably, the airline's leadership is doing everything in its power to make sure there are no more incidents like this. Presumably, Gov. Jesse Ventura and other state leaders have voiced their concern.
Presumably, presumably. You'd have presumed, though, that all that was already clear and that Northwest had taken steps to make sure such a situation didn't recur. It did recur, however, and that is reason enough to give people throughout Minnesota reason for a bit of concern about the health of this key player in the state's economy.
-- Duluth News Tribune
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