Economy

No Pension, No Security: Abandoning Defined Benefits is Both an Over Reaction and Bad Public Policy

Note: This article first appeared in Citizens League Voice magazine. Remember the Chicken Little fable? Just like the chicken who believed the world was coming to an end, some politicians and researchers are provoking unreasonable fear about the health of Minnesota’s public pension funds. Teachers and government workers have deferred their wages for a guaranteed…

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Nuclear Power in Minnesota

Two nuclear stations in Minnesota, Monticello and Prairie Island, produced 23% of the state’s energy last year. Both were built in the 1970s. Between the three reactors at the two plants, they have a maximum capacity of 1,594 megawatts (MW)—enough to power more well more than a million homes. For those curious about how they…

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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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What Coal Plant Closures Mean for Minnesotans

In the last few years, several coal plants in Minnesota have either shut down their boilers, idled them, or converted them to another fuel source. These closures have followed national and international trends, where coal-fired electricity loses on cost to natural gas and renewables. What economic impacts will Minnesotans feel? The Becker, MN Sherburne County…

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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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