POLITICS IS NEVER safe in Minnesota when the legislature is in session. As we get close to the end of this session, I must compliment them for using surplus funds to restore the unemployment fund that was depleted during the pandemic.

Taxes are high in Minnesota. If those rates were increased, it’s very difficult for small businesses to operate. However, they also are funding those workers in various professions and fields that worked extra hours under a lot of stress during the COVID-19 period.

However, there is a $6 million surplus and I think that could be used to lower taxes. For example, Minnesota is one of several states where Social Security is taxed. Also, there is another tax that I think would be helpful if it were reduced and that’s for retired people who choose to change their residency to some of the southern states where there is no state tax. Minnesota state tax is punitive and there are several states that reduced their state tax rate for those in retirement years.

WAR INSTIGATED BY Russia in an independent country like Ukraine is totally ridiculous. Thousands of lives are being lost, families upset, with many fleeing to other countries against their best judgment.

Ukraine is also considered the bread basket of Europe. As agriculture is being upset in massive ways, which will lead to millions of deaths because of starvation, it will also cause food prices to soar and have either a direct or indirect impact on people of the entire world.

On the other hand, when there is war, farmers in the United States benefit. They are already experiencing it by selling grains at high prices that have been held in storage. However, after this spring they will not have advanced contracts on fuel, fertilizers and seeds, their cost will rise and this too will further the inflation factor.

ALONG WITH MANY other snowbirds, we returned home from Fort Myers, Florida last week. It’s always good to return home and connect with family and neighbors and catch up with information at the coffee shops.

THIS WEATHER TELLS me that we may skip spring this year and go right into summer. Gardeners tell us that planting will be a couple weeks later as the ground continues to be cold and the daytime temperatures are at least 10 degrees below normal.

Gene Johnson is Publisher Emeritus of Press Publications, White Bear Lake, and owner of the Kanabec County Times.




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