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Governors: Together, states can save money

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, left, said his state's agreement to share services with Minnesota and Gov. Tim Pawlenty is "unprecedented" and should last indefinitely.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota and Wisconsin each could see a one-time savings of $10 million by sharing resources - from prison food plans to fish eggs - and buying in bulk, the states' governors said.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday their states will work together in the coming months to save money and improve services in some 80 areas of state government.

Ideas range from the mundane to the unusual:

  • Sharing technology
  • Permitting Minnesota to buy milk from a state-run farm in Wisconsin
  • Allowing Wisconsin to use Minnesota's food plan for prisons
  • Discussing a joint application for federal high-speed rail funds
  • Trading fish eggs to meet stocking needs
  • Swapping data to increase child support payments
  • Tag-teaming on invasive insect control
  • Working on one, not separate, St. Louis River water quality projects

The states will study whether to streamline hunting and angling licenses for people who hunt and fish across state lines, the governors said. License revenue and the impact on natural resources will be considered.

The governors - Pawlenty a Republican, Doyle a Democrat - announced in January that in light of state budget deficits they want to work together to streamline government operations.

The states have many commonalities.

"What is not common is the historic challenge that Minnesota and Wisconsin face with this terrible national economic crisis and we need to do all that we can to make sure that best value is being put forth on behalf of our citizens," Pawlenty said at a St. Paul news conference. The governors also discussed the plan at an Eau Claire, Wis., stop.

The joint effort will continue in the coming months and will provide savings to taxpayers, Doyle said.

"There are real opportunities here and I think what Wisconsin and Minnesota are doing is unprecedented," Doyle said.

Pawlenty said there may not be any need for new legislation, though some ideas may require legislative approval or consideration as part of labor contract negotiations. No state job losses are expected.

Pawlenty said Minnesota may be able to work with other neighboring states, but started with Wisconsin because of the states' similar size and population.