Posts by Jeff Van Wychen

Government Growth in Context

Shocking claims of growth in government abound. However, viewed in context of the economic, demographic, and societal changes that have occurred over the last fifty years, the growth in government is far less astounding than the sound-bite statistics indicate. For example, the charge of 5,000% growth in state government is based on the change in…

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Impact of Legislative Decisions on School Funding

State aid to Minnesota school districts—properly adjusted for inflation—has fluctuated significantly over the last fifteen years, but the overall trend has been downward, as documented in a recent North Star report. Of course, long-term trends are not exclusively the result of changes enacted by state policymakers.* Using information compiled during the 2017 special legislative session,…

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Misplaced Faith in Tax Cuts

Whatever the problem, a tax cut will fix it. And under no circumstances ever increase taxes. So goes the conventional conservative mantra. New research from two Oklahoma State University economists (Rickman and Wang, 2018) finds that reality is far more nuanced than this rigid perspective suggests. Tax cuts can promote economic growth—or they can harm…

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Minnesota & Wisconsin: Similar Unemployment Rates, Different Outcomes

Good news is worth repeating. Last fall, North Star published an analysis showing that while Minnesota and Wisconsin had similarly low unemployment rates, the two states reached this point via very different paths. Minnesota reached its low unemployment rate with above average job and labor force growth, while Wisconsin had below average job and labor…

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The School Aid Backslide: Digging into District-by-District Details

North Star’s new report, Minnesota Backslide: School Aid Cuts on the Horizon, documents the decline in real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) per pupil* state operating aid to Minnesota school districts since fiscal year (FY) 2003 and the corresponding increase in school property taxes. While the general impact of the aid loss is similar in most parts of…

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Back to the Future: Declining School Aid in Minnesota

Despite increases in recent years, real per pupil state operating aid to Minnesota school districts has declined overall since fiscal year (FY) 2003. This decline in state aid translated into significant property tax hikes and—in many instances—reduced funding for public education. To compound matters, projections based on current state law indicate a significant decline in…

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Wisconsin Grows Poorer, More Unequal Relative to Minnesota

Minnesota’s median income grew faster than the national average over the past decade, as noted in part 1 of this series. And while Minnesota income inequality has increased, it has increased less rapidly than the national average. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, median income growth fell short of the U.S. growth rate and income inequality increased at…

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Minnesota vs. U.S. Income Trends Since the Great Recession

When it comes to income trends in Minnesota, we’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that income growth in Minnesota has surpassed the national average over the last decade, both in aggregate and within every income group. The bad news is that income inequality has increased over this period,…

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Minnesota in the Middle on Middle-Income Taxes

Minnesota conservatives work hard to portray Minnesota as a high tax state. In reality, state and local effective tax rates for middle-income families in Minnesota are fairly typical of the rates in other states. In addition, average effective tax rates for lower-income households in Minnesota are below the national average. The state and local effective…

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