News & Updates

Every week, North Star will take some time out of our schedules to bring you our favorite reads from the past week.

Jeff Van Wychen

Things are Getting Better, Slowly, Because of Government

This article is a summary of a recent Twin Cities talk given by Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker. Hacker’s premise is nicely summarized by the title a book he recently co-authored: “American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper.” Hacker argues that right wing tactics have been designed to keep government from functioning, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy about the inefficacy of government.

Stephanie Fenner

Target Will Allow People to Use Bathrooms That Correspond to Their Gender Identity

According to MPR, Target will allow its transgender customers and employees to use restrooms and fitting rooms that correspond with their gender identities. Target joins the national debate on this topic, after North Carolina drew controversy for passing a law prohibiting transgender people from using public restrooms not aligned with their sex at birth. Target said:

“We believe that everyone — every team member, every guest, and every community — deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.”

Big Debt, Big Deal

Minnesota is living under a $27 billion mountain of student loan debt.1 A student graduating in Minnesota today has an average of $31,000 in debt.2 Whether we realize it or not, it is affecting both individuals and the broader community. The challenge of student loan...

Minnesota Business Tax Rate Equals U.S. Average

Business groups—including the Minnesota Business Partnership and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce—actively cultivate the notion that business taxes in the Gopher State are high relative to the rest of the nation. However, total state and local business taxes as a share...

Ensure Respect for Minimum Wage Laws

(Note: This article is co-authored with Laura Huizar, a staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project in Washington, D.C.) A few weeks ago, the St. Paul City Council introduced a draft ordinance that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. That’s a...

Caring in Central Minnesota

Minnesota is getting older every day.1 The aging of our population is increasing demand for home health and personal care workers. We also continue to have population growth through both immigration and natural growth. To fill the needs of our changing population we...

Gas Tax Buys One-Third Less Today Than in 2000

The single largest source of funding for Minnesota’s transportation system comes from the state gas tax. However, the purchasing power of that tax has dropped by over one-third over the course of the century, leaving funding for state roads and bridges in a precarious...

State Aids: The Shrinking Slice of the City Revenue Pie

City property taxes have increased significantly in recent decades. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, the property taxes collected by Minnesota cities have increased by 48% from 1990 to 2018. However, real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) per capita...

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...

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...

Minnesota’s Shared Health

Minnesotans value a high quality of life. It is part of the Minnesota story and one of our competitive advantages. This includes having healthy people in healthy communities. Historically, policy makers have recognized the importance of health care access by investing...

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