Our Work


  • March 7, 2016

Can Minnesota Afford to Eliminate the State Business Property Tax?

Minnesota conservatives, with the backing of the business lobby, are keen on a plan to eliminate the state business property tax. A recent North Star article noted that the bulk of this tax relief will go to large multi-million dollar properties, as opposed to small Main Street businesses. This article will look at a different […]

  • March 4, 2016

Small Business Tax Relief? Not So Much

In recent years conservatives have talked about phasing-out and ultimately eliminating the state business property tax. This is the first of a series of articles that will examine various aspects of this plan. This article will examine the distribution of tax relief between large and small businesses. Just how much of the tax relief from […]

  • March 3, 2016

Executive Summary: Minnesota’s Budget Surplus

The conservative effort to use the entire budget surplus to reduce state taxes—often referred to as the “give it back” campaign—is based on the premise that state revenues and expenditures have increased dramatically and thus all legitimate state expenditure needs should already be sated. However, a closer look at total state general fund revenue and […]

  • March 3, 2016

Minnesota’s Budget Surplus: Balancing Tax Cuts and Investments

I. Introduction Last March, a group of legislators gathered at the State Capitol with a simple message: “Give it back!” The “it” refers to the state budget surplus, then projected to be nearly two billion dollars for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2016-17 biennium. These legislators urged Governor Dayton and their House and Senate colleagues […]

  • March 1, 2016

Statewide Student Loan Debt Conversations

Last week, we hit the road and traveled around the state talking with student loan borrowers about their experiences dealing with debt. We met with students, professionals, and local leaders and heard powerful stories about the struggles folks have due to student debt. We made eight stops in four days, traveling to Wayzata, Brooklyn Park, […]

  • February 29, 2016

The “Real” Story Behind State and Local Government Inflation

When measuring changes over time in income, wages, revenue, spending, or just about anything else that is measured in dollars, amounts are commonly adjusted for the decline in the purchasing power of the dollar due to inflation. Without inflation adjustments, we have no idea of the real purchasing power of the dollars being earned, collected, […]

A Closer Look at the February Forecast

On the surface, today’s release of the February economic forecast was no big deal. Projections of state general fund revenue went down (mainly due to national and global economic trends that state policymakers have no control over), but so too did projected spending. The net result was a $300 million reduction in the size of […]

  • February 24, 2016

Conservative Criticisms of the 2013 Tax Act Fall Flat

A recent North Star article touted the success of the 2013 tax act in reducing tax regressivity, providing targeted tax relief, reducing the state and local taxes paid by most middle-income households, funding important public investments, and helping to put the state budget on a sound fiscal footing. However, no retrospective of the 2013 tax act […]

  • February 22, 2016

I Sing the Tax Act 2013

Of all the legislation enacted in recent years, few have aroused as much passion as chapter 147 of the 88th legislative session: the 2013 omnibus tax act. Thus, it is fitting that North Star’s inaugural fiscal policy article should focus on this historic law. To some, the 2013 tax act represents confiscatory taxation and excessive […]

  • February 22, 2016

Student Loan Borrowers Discuss Debt at St. Paul College

This morning, we kicked off our Minnesota Debt Tour by stopping at St. Paul College to hear from student loan borrowers and legislators about the ongoing student debt crisis. First to speak was Clinton, a St. Paul College senior with a burdensome debt load. Clinton spent one semester at Luther College, where he racked up $18,000 […]