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

Merkel’s Mettle

The current world leader that I admire above all others is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel has risked her political career by welcoming one million Syrian refugees to her homeland, courageously standing up for these oppressed people in the face of rising tide of Western Islamophobia. Margot Patterson argues that,

“Germany has become the indispensable country and Merkel the indispensable leader not just because of the country’s economic might but because of the moral leadership she has shown.”

Stephanie Fenner

Minnesotans’ Incomes Bouncing Back, Census Data Show

Minnesotans got some good news this week, as Census data show that Minnesotans’ incomes are finally showing signs of recovering from the Great Recession. MPR writes,

Median income for all Minnesotans increased by about $2,000 between 2014 and 2015, when it rose to an estimated $63,488. The state median household income for 2015 is almost 14 percent higher than the national rate.

However, racial disparities continue to exist in Minnesota. For example, while black household income bounced back, the median household income for whites is around $67,000, median household income for black Minnesotans is less than half that.

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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