Hwy. 100 will go from bad to worse

MnDOT

But you don’t understand. I have to get to Costco! The Strib’s Tim Harlow warns westsiders that in two months Hwy. 100 will go from miserable to worse. “‘I’m not here to scare you, but this is what it’s going to be like during construction,’ MnDOT spokeswoman Bobbie Dahlke told a packed room at a community forum held last week at AAA Minneapolis to prepare residents for what’s to come. ‘If it takes you 20 minutes now, times that by six.’

A 529-like bill for disabled kids. Doug Belden of the PiPress says, “So-called ‘ABLE’ accounts — which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience — allow parents to sock away money for blind or disabled children in the same kind of tax-advantaged 529 account they now can set up to pay for higher education for their college-bound kids. Currently, disabled people can lose eligibility for public benefits once they reach $2,000 in savings. With an ABLE account, contributions of up to $14,000 per year are allowed under current rules. The account could grow to $100,000 before Social Security Supplemental Security Income would be suspended.”

Alan Page’s retirement from the state Supreme Court will get a lot of attention. At the AP Steve Karnowski writes, “After 22 years on the state’s high court, Page is preparing for another major life change in August when he hits the court’s mandatory retirement age of 70. His will be an active retirement, though, that will involve spending more time on his philanthropic work aimed at students of color, and perhaps even teaching. … Page recalled growing up in Canton, Ohio, during the segregation era. He’s been pulled over, he said, for ‘driving while black.’ He said he has had ‘the talk’ with his four children about how to stay safe when stopped by police, as his parents did with him.”

Winter usually brings a pause in the invasive species reports. But the AP has this: “A new aerial analysis of the Black Hills National Forest shows the pine beetle epidemic is still growing but slower than before. The Rapid City Journal reports the survey filed by state and federal agencies found that about 16,500 acres were newly identified last year as affected by mountain pine beetles. The U.S. Forest Service says that’s a sign the epidemic is slowing, after 34,000 acres were newly affected in 2013.”

Crocus Hill sorts have ways of dealing with bureaucracies.  Frederick Melo of the PiPress says, “The owners of a 1902 Victorian home on Crocus Hill are suing the city of St. Paul, claiming they purchased the property in November with assurances from the city they would face no restrictions in demolishing it. Fred and Renee Pritzker had planned to tear down the 4,200-square-foot structure and build a new home that could better accommodate their severely disabled son. The city issued the Pritzkers a demolition permit in January but suspended it later the same day, citing the need for an environmental assessment to determine whether 27 Crocus Place is a historically significant property.”

Everyone’s going to have to suffer a little if Scott Walker is going to have a chance of upsetting Jeb. The AP reports, “Wisconsin’s older residents say Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to cut funding for the SeniorCare drug program could leave them struggling to make ends meet. The proposal would require SeniorCare enrollees to first sign up for Medicare Part D prescription drug program and use state benefits under SeniorCare as a supplement. The cut could save the state $15 million over the next two years. … Walker did not mention the change in his budget address to the Legislature, which was broadcast statewide, last week.”

Oxymoron alert! Sarah Duniway and Julia Offenhauser has a piece in the Strib explaining “public benefit corporations.”  “Businesses that advance the common good aren’t new — Minnesota businesses have long led the charge to further corporate responsibility to the community in addition to advancing their business goals. Today, however, there is a new generation of businesses that wish to commit themselves even more deliberately and transparently to advancing a specific public good. Minnesota joins 26 other states in creating the legal framework to support these public benefit corporations by adjusting existing corporation statutes.” How many are “headquartered” in Ireland?

Always remember, it’s a “loyalty” program. Ellen Creager of the Detroit Free Press reports, “The warning that Delta Air Lines made 11 months ago about changing its SkyMiles award program has come to pass. If you don’t know the rules, you may be in for a shock. As of Jan. 1, a $1,200 economy flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul International to Amsterdam that used to earn 8,332 SkyMiles earns only 6,000. A $350 flight from MSP to Phoenix that racked up 2,552 miles now gets 1,750. Why such a change? Because Delta now awards SkyMiles based on how much a flier paid for the ticket, not the distance you flew.”

Fraud watch. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “His mother founded a Twin Cities investment adviser company. His father was a minister. Now the couple’s 43-year-old son, who worked for his mother, has been sentenced to prison for using the business to cheat his father and other clients out of nearly $2 million. Joel W. Carlson, of Vadnais Heights, having pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis, was sentenced Friday to 3½ years in prison and ordered to pay restitution to his victims for the full amount along with another $1.2 million to the IRS.”

Speaking of taxes, Kim Crockett of the conservative Center of the American Experiment comes to the defense of Minnesotans living in fear of the estate tax. In a Strib commentary she writes, “In a ritual familiar to many Minnesotans, I recently made plans to visit my mother in Florida. When I called to compare calendars, she surprised me. After just a few months as a new snowbird, she is thinking of becoming a resident of Florida. ‘We are happy to pay the taxes, but the estate tax is another matter,’ she said.  … Rather than pay the tax, [one man] bought a house in Florida for less than what he would have paid in estate taxes and became a Florida resident. Instead of paying estate tax, his children are going to inherit a five-bedroom house in Florida.”

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/09/2015 - 09:07 am.

    Language deficit

    Apparently, the “spokesperson” for MnDOT is unfamiliar with the mathematical term “multiply.”

    “If it takes you 20 minutes now, times that by six” might be in the running for an “awkward use of language” award. Does MnDOT assume Minnesotans will be confused by the term “multiply,” or is the alleged spokesperson simply inarticulate?

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/09/2015 - 01:13 pm.

    “Times” is not a verb

    I am surprised to hear a professional spokesperson uttering a usage that should be dropped before middle school.

    It’s “multiply that,” not “times that.”

  3. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/09/2015 - 11:48 am.

    Hwy 100

    Well, I guess I’m back to biking next month once the weather turns decent. The commute by bike is already less than or equal to commuting by car, plus I get to shed a few pounds over the summer and arrive home all relaxed instead of stressed out from traffic.

    Hwy 100 is just going to suck for a couple of years no matter how you slice it. It’s time to work up those alternatives.

  4. Submitted by Howard Salute on 02/09/2015 - 12:11 pm.

    Domicile in FL

    Unfortunately, the scenario of retired MN taxpayers seeking to become FL (or low tax state) residents is real. It does no good to blame this situation on greedy taxpayers. We are all free to make our own economic choices based upon the rules. MN has a high ordinary income tax rate .MN taxes capital gains like ordinary income. MN has not adapted the Federal estate tax rules. I’d like to see some data on how many retired Minnesotans are changing their domicile. From our state tax perspective, a lower percentage of something is better than a high percentage of nothing. Our state leaders need to face this reality.

    • Submitted by Peter Stark on 02/09/2015 - 02:24 pm.

      Or…

      The State could decide to forget about that small set of folks who will bolt, and who will provide limited additional revenues in their years of retirement, and instead focus on attracting and retaining young professionals like me, who will provide large pools of revenue for the better part of a century.

      Florida and other tax havens can keep the oldsters.

      • Submitted by Howard Salute on 02/09/2015 - 03:35 pm.

        Not mutually exclusive

        Peter, You assume it is a small set of folks. maybe not. It is nice you recognize their may be an issue. But, it does not have to be one group vs the other. The state will benefit if it can keep both income streams.

        • Submitted by Peter Stark on 02/09/2015 - 05:12 pm.

          Then…

          I see no reason to lower the estate tax. Lowering the estate tax will only lower revenues, it will do nothing else.

          According to House Research, only 2% of estates pay the estate tax, and it is one of our most progressive taxes. That’s a winning policy for retaining young professionals. That’s $160,000,000 a year, borne by the Top 2% of estates, that provides the services peoplelike me want their state to provide.

          Source: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/ss/ssesttx.pdf

          • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/10/2015 - 12:26 pm.

            Taxes

            The goal at the end of the day is to build a better society that all can benefit from. Not build a better society and only the young and poor contribute to. As Peter pointed out, the estate tax only affects a few people, people who can well afford to pitch in a couple of bucks to help out the society that made them wealthy.

            As for people leaving the state because Minnesota has income taxes and Florida does not, that’s pretty much a wash. Florida needs to pay for its government just like every other state in the Union and if they don’t get it through income taxes, they get it some other way. Typically that means fees, which hit the poor and those one fixed income (think elderly) particularly hard as fees tend to be much more regressive than income taxes.

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