Posts by Jeff Van Wychen

Debunking Minnesota Economic and Fiscal Policy Myths

Minnesota is a land of 10,000 lakes and almost as many misconceptions about the size of government, growth in public revenue and expenditures, and performance of the state’s economy. Some of these mistaken beliefs are the result of an innocent misreading of the data, while others are the product of deliberate disinformation campaigns. The following…

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Tax Triggers: An Unnecessary Fiscal Autopilot

At least officially, Minnesota’s general fund is projected to have a budget surplus in the current and upcoming bienniums. Conservatives have proposed a “tax trigger” that would automatically reduce state individual and corporate income taxes whenever such a surplus occurs. Such proposals are unnecessary, regressive, fiscally irresponsible, and would skew fiscal policy outcomes away from…

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Budget Deficits on the Horizon

With an official projected state budget surplus of $329 million in the current fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 biennium and $580 million in the upcoming FY 2020-21 biennium, some state lawmakers are giddy about the prospects of more tax cuts during the 2018 legislative session. However, there are at least three good reasons why Minnesota policymakers…

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Minnesota Per Capita GDP Growth Surpasses U.S. Average

High per capita gross domestic product (GDP) states—such as Minnesota—tend to have lower rates of GDP growth over time, for reasons discussed in part 1 of this series. However, Minnesota has successfully bucked this trend during the current business cycle, with per capita GDP growth nearly double the U.S. average—a trend which stands at odds…

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Convergence is Back! (It Never Really Went Away)

Convergence refers to the tendency of states with below average levels of economic activity to enjoy somewhat higher growth rates than other more prosperous states. Convergence occurs because less well-performing states tend to make up ground over time relative to more prosperous states as innovations and technology diffuse throughout the economy.* If convergence is real,…

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Minnesota Still Outperforming “Right to Work” Wisconsin

For most of the last decade, earnings in Minnesota and Wisconsin grew at a similar pace—until 2015. In that year, Wisconsin adopted its so-called “right to work” (RTW) law. Since then, earnings growth in Wisconsin slowed relative to Minnesota. In 2017, the average hourly earnings gap between Minnesota and Wisconsin was 42% greater than it…

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The Federal Tax Act’s Minnesota Impact: Steeply Regressive

Corporate elites and wealthy Americans celebrated when Congressional conservatives and President Trump rolled out the so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA) late last year—and with good reason. The TCJA was overwhelmingly regressive, sending a disproportionate share of tax relief to high-income households that have benefited from rising income inequality for decades. Analysis confirms this…

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Minnesota’s Only Frozen Tax: The State Business Property Tax

State and local taxes in Minnesota typically grow over time in response to increased consumption and rising economic activity, and to keep pace with the growing demand for public services. There is one notable exception to this rule: the currently frozen state business property tax. Because this tax is frozen, the cost of government shifts…

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Generating State Revenue Through Corporate Tax Conformity

The so-called “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” (TCJA) enacted by Congress last year made massive changes to the federal tax code. Minnesota and other states must now decide if and how to conform their own tax codes to the federal changes. As we note in part 1 of this series, the qualified pass-through income tax…

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