Posts by Jeff Van Wychen

Tax, Revenue, Spending Rankings in Perspective

Americans love rankings. We rank everything from Division 1 college football teams to states with the worst winters. (Without much trouble, you can probably guess which one Minnesota leads the nation in!) Policy nerds (like me) and politicians often talk about tax rankings. Less frequently discussed—but as or perhaps more important—are rankings of states based…

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Minnesota: the Best Run State in the U.S.

Minnesota progressives can tout a new achievement: the state was recently ranked the best run state in the nation, according to a 24/7 Wall Street report published by USA Today. This report is not based on an ideologically skewed methodology designed to prefer blue states over red states or vice versa, but on a wide…

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When Equal Unemployment Rates Are Not Equal

Minnesota and Wisconsin currently enjoy low unemployment rates relative to the rest of the nation. In addition, both states enjoyed an above average decline in unemployment rates since the beginning of the Great Recession. However, this does not mean that the economies of these states have performed equally well. Minnesota achieved its low unemployment rate…

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State Deficit Worse Than It Appears

True to expectations, the condition of Minnesota’s finances has deteriorated from what was projected at the end of the 2017 special session. Based on the November forecast released earlier today, a modest deficit is now projected for the current fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 biennium and a significant deficit is projected for the upcoming FY 2020-21…

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Low-Tax Wisconsin Losing More Income Tax Filers than Minnesota

In recent years, there has been a small net migration of income tax filers from Minnesota to other states. Conservative think tanks have argued that this net export of tax filers from the state is due to Minnesota’s tax climate—a claim debunked in a previous North Star article. A comparison of Minnesota to relatively low-tax…

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St. Paul Spending Isn’t “Out of Control”

The City of Saint Paul is confronting a potential 24 percent increase in its levy in 2018, based on a preliminary budget proposal. The increase is largely the result of a Minnesota Supreme Court decision handed down last summer, which stripped the City of its ability to issue “right of way” maintenance assessments. This eliminated…

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October Update: We’ve Got Some Good News & Some Bad News

The October Revenue and Economic Update from Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB) contained some good news and some bad news. The good news is that fiscal year (FY) 2017 revenue collections surpassed July expectations. The bad news is that FY 2018 revenues continue to come in below levels anticipated in the February 2017 forecast and,…

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Real Per Pupil State Aid Has Declined Since FY 2003

The conservative Minnesota Business Partnership recently challenged our contention that real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) per pupil state aid has declined since fiscal year (FY) 2003. North Star’s assertion in regard to declining state aid is completely accurate—if you use an inflation index appropriate to measuring the impact of inflation on school district finances. Only by using…

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Counties with Greatest Income Inequality are Also the Poorest

In recent decades, income inequality has increased, both in Minnesota and nationally. New information from the American Community Survey (ACS) shows that U.S. and Minnesota counties with the highest degree of income inequality also have the highest poverty rates and the lowest median incomes, thereby underscoring the devastating impact of income inequality on low- and…

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Tax Cut Driven Budget Problems Escalate in Future

The fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 state general fund budget surplus—projected to be $1.65 billion last February—could easily turn into a $104 million deficit after taking into account the tax cuts and other measures enacted earlier this year, as noted in the first part of this series. Because the revenue loss from many of these tax…

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