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

Sharing the Prosperity: Why We Still Need Organized Labor

Economic inequality in the United States is at a historical high and greater than in any other advanced country. This inequality is manifested in lower life expectancy among the poor and extreme child poverty; 20% of U.S. children live in poverty—ranking the U.S. 34th out of 35 industrialized countries. The author attributes these alarming trends to the demise of organized labor. A series of hostile Supreme Court decisions and an expansion of so-called “right-to-work” laws in many states has led to an erosion of the rights of labor established in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act to organize, collectively bargain, and strike. As the right of workers to organize helped to create the middle class, the erosion of these rights has led to its demise. The author concludes by noting that:

“Unionization places the ability to influence what happens in the workplace directly in workers’ own hands, even as it creates institutions that can advocate for working people at the community, state, and national level. Under an effective labor-law regime, unions remain the unique vehicle for worker empowerment. As envisioned by Senator Robert Wagner more than eighty years ago, a strong union movement is the most effective tool for strengthening economic and political democracy.”

Stephanie Fenner

Gun Violence ‘A Public Health Crisis,’ American Medical Association Says

 In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history at an Orlando gay nightclub, the American Medical Association is adopting a policy calling U.S. gun violence “a public health crisis.” The AMA is the largest physicians group in the U.S., and has supported gun violence prevention measures since the 1980s, but will now take a more active role in urging Congress lift the 1996 ban on federal research on gun violence.

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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