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

Look to the Insects.

This article critiques a new book by American biologist David Sloan Wilson entitled, Does Altruism Exist? Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others. This book examines the origins of altruism from an evolutionary perspective, noting the altruistic behavior of social insects. Johnston concurs with Wilson that altruism does indeed exist, but differs with him as to its nature and causes. The article concludes with insights into altruism, selfishness, and love.

Stephanie Fenner

Parents Borrowing to Send Kids to College Skyrocketed Over the Last Two Decades.

This article confirms what North Star has been saying since it began: student loan debt isn’t just a young person’s problem. Student debt affects future and current students, parents, and even grandparents. MarketWatch found that borrowers with Parent PLUS loans jumped an astronomical 385 percent from the 1989-90 academic year to the 2011-12 academic year.

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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