Our Work


  • May 3, 2017

On the Disadvantages of Switching to the Federal Exchange

MNsure, Minnesota’s state-based health exchange, has been a target of conservatives since its founding in 2013, including several attempts to transition to a federally-administered exchange. This raises the question of whether or not a federal exchange is in any way better than the current system. MNsure is the marketplace for individual and small group plans, […]

  • May 1, 2017

City LGA Differences Among Various Plans

Governor Dayton’s city Local Government Aid (LGA) proposal increases the LGA appropriation in the upcoming two year budget, while the House freezes the appropriation and the Senate cuts it, as noted in the preceding North Star article. Knowledge of the appropriation alone, however, does not tell us how much aid individual cities will receive. In […]

  • April 25, 2017

AHCA: Huge Losses in Premium Aid for Minnesotans

Earlier this year, conservatives attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), otherwise known as Trumpcare. These efforts were stymied by the rivaling factions within the Republican party, but had the bill passed, it would have devastated older working and middle class Minnesotans. Although momentum […]

  • April 24, 2017

City Aid Declines Under Most LGA Proposals

For the last four and a half decades, the city Local Government Aid (LGA) program has helped cities fund essential services and control property tax levels, but in real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) dollars per capita, city LGA is currently less than half of what it was in its peak year of 1990 and about 20 percent […]

  • April 20, 2017

One-Sided Reverse Referendum Undermines Local Governance

A movement is again afoot in Minnesota to allow anti-tax voters to create new hurdles to local levy increases. Under the moniker of “taxpayer empowerment,” this initiative would allow voters as few as ten percent of the number voting in the last general election to trigger a referendum to reverse any levy increase in a […]

  • April 18, 2017

Basic School Revenue Hasn’t Kept Up with Inflation

Most of the assistance that Minnesota school districts receive from the state comes in the form of basic general education formula revenue. This revenue establishes a base level of funding for all districts, from which—in theory—basic school operating expenses can be funded. Despite increases in recent years, real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) basic formula revenue is over […]

  • April 17, 2017

Are 529 Tax Breaks Working?

In order to incentivize families to save for their children’s college education, Minnesota and other states are exploring income tax credits and deductions for 529 plans. Named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, these investment vehicles were designed to encourage parents to save for college by granting tax breaks on higher education savings […]

  • April 6, 2017

Federal Taxes in the MTIS: In or Out?

The Minnesota Tax Incidence Study (MTIS) looks at the impact of state and local taxes by income group, in an attempt ascertain who is paying Minnesota taxes. Since it was first published by the Minnesota Department of Revenue (MDOR) in 1991, the MTIS has been one of the best state tax incidence studies in the […]

  • April 3, 2017

Shocking Implications of Private School Tax Credits

Conservatives continue to push vouchers and private school tax credits, despite new research (summarized in a recent North Star article) indicating that this approach is counter-productive to improving student achievement. Minnesota is among the states considering expanding the K-12 education tax credit to include contributions by individuals and corporations to foundations that provide vouchers and […]

  • March 29, 2017

Sharp Jump in Homeowner Property Taxes

Property taxes paid as a percent of income have declined for the typical Minnesota homeowner since 2007, according to the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence (MCFE), formerly the Minnesota Taxpayers Association. As noted in the previous article in this series, however, this conclusion is not necessarily warranted by the data. Furthermore, if we look at […]