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GOP candidates say Minnesota should be more like Kansas and Wisconsin. The numbers say otherwise

Brownback: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Walker: REUTERS/Dave Kaup
The Republican candidates for governor have all emphasized that they will follow economic policies similar to those of Sam Brownback in Kansas and Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

The state of the economy is always an election issue — and this year’s contests are no exception.

The governor’s race presents a clear choice between Gov. Mark Dayton’s economic policies and those advocated by his Republican challengers. In particular, the Republican candidates have all emphasized that they will follow economic policies similar to those of Sam Brownback in Kansas and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. This includes tax cuts, reduced business regulation, laws to limit union power, and resistance to the Affordable Care Act. (Menzie Chinn of the University of Wisconsin presents a concise summary of these policies here.)

Scott Honour states the case clearly in his economic plan. He sets out five goals for Minnesota’s economic policy and then says to meet these goals he will enact a host of polices ranging from tax reform to expanded mining.

All of this begs a question: How is Minnesota doing relative to the goals that Honour sets out? 

Let’s go to the data:

Goal 1: Lead our region in economic growth and job creation

This one is going to be tough to meet given North Dakota’s oil boom. For instance, private employment in North Dakota grew 32.1 percent since 2010, the most recent low-point for private sector job growth. But, as the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis recently reported, this breakneck growth is slowing down.

Minnesota leads the rest of the upper Midwest in job creation with 8.8 percent growth since 2010. Iowa gained jobs at a 6.4 percent rate while South Dakota and Wisconsin tied at 6.3 percent growth. Kansas saw 6.6 percent private job growth over the same period.

Goal 2: Higher wages and take home pay

A good way to look at this is to scan the numbers on average income per person after taxes.  The chart below shows these data for 1990 to the present, with each state’s average measured relative to the national average:

Per capita disposable personal income relative to US average
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Minnesota was at the national average in 1990, with Kansas and Wisconsin at about 93-95 percent of the average. By 2013, however, Minnesotans earned about 106 percent of the national average income after taxes, while Kansas bumped around the national average and Wisconsin remained stuck below, at around 97 percent.

Goal 3: Increased private sector employment

The figure below shows private employment as a percent of total employment since 1990:

Private employment as percent of total employment
Source: FRED

Wisconsin leads in this category, but has been pretty flat since 1990. Minnesota, on the other hand, has experienced rising private sector employment while Kansas has fluctuated around 80 percent.

Focusing on the period since the last recession began, in December 2007, through June 2014, private sector employment rose 0.3 percent in Minnesota, while in Kansas it fell 0.6 percent and in Wisconsin it decreased 2.2 percent.

Goal 4: Reduced underemployment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces a variety of unemployment data we can examine to assess this goal.

Alternative unemployment measures, 2013
As percent of labor force
Source: BLS

The figure above shows four different unemployment measures. Reading from left to right, we can first look at those unemployed 15 weeks or longer; in that category, Minnesota has the lowest rate compared to Kansas and Wisconsin. Next, we can think about underemployment by counting up the number of people who’ve lost jobs or who finished temporary jobs over the course of 2013. In that category, Minnesota and Kansas are tied, with Wisconsin in third place.

The next measure is the standard unemployment rate you read in the papers; and the final figure is the unemployment rate that includes those who are underemployed. In both cases, it’s Minnesota first, Kansas second, and Wisconsin third. 

To put this in broader context, Minnesota has the 9th lowest long-term unemployment in the nation, while Kansas is 12th and Wisconsin is 22nd. Minnesota is also 9th-lowest on the broad measure of unemployment (Kansas is 11th and Wisconsin is 19th.)

Goal 5: Higher workforce participation

Economists of all stripes are disturbed by falling labor force participation rates. So, how are we doing on this score? Let’s compare Minnesota, Kansas, and Wisconsin to the national data:

Labor force participation rates relative to US average
Annual, 1976-2013
Source: BLS

Minnesota’s labor force participation rate started at 109 percent of the national average in 2007 (when the Great Recession began), and now stands at about 111 percent. Kansas and Wisconsin are both holding their own above the national average, but both states still lag behind Minnesota on this measure.

Where does all of this leave Minnesota? The Republican gubernatorial candidates portray the Minnesota economy as being shackled by regulations, burdened by high taxes, and strangled by unions. Yet the data indicate otherwise — that Minnesota is doing well on each of the five goals candidate Honour proposes as measures of progress.

This isn’t a short-term phenomenon. High rates of labor force participation (especially by women), investments in human capital (such as education and health care), and investments in physical capital (both by private funders and public agencies) have all contributed to Minnesota's strong economic performance over the past 60 years.

I can only hope that the Republican gubernatorial candidates think that Minnesota can do even better by adopting policies similar to those of Kansas and Wisconsin. They certainly don’t want Minnesota to fall backwards to the levels of employment and income in those states.

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Comments (135)


They want us to be more like Kansas and Wisconsin? Is that some kind of an Onion article? Kansas is the state where GOP legislators are rebelling against their own governor because his policies are too extreme even for them. That is not the kind of model we want to pursue here in Minnesota.

As for Wisconsin, they're at the bottom of the heap as far as job growth goes, while we're at the top. If anything, they should be following our lead instead of the other way around.

There you go again, Mr. Johnston, trying to confuse us...

...with your constellation of facts - silly, silly facts !!


The GOP wants to portray unions as detrimental to our economy for a couple of reasons.

One is they don't like the rules that unions impose. It can be harder to shift people around as they please if there are laws and rules to comply with. Yes, "shifting around" also includes firing, which can be good or bad, depending on which side of the tie you're on. If you have an underperforming employee, then it would be nice to fire him without a lot of wrangling or paperwork. But if a manager wants to sack someone and slide his brother-in-law into the position, then those very barriers become a positive element for both the employee and the company. Hiring and promoting people simply because of their family ties does not raise the best talent in the firm.

Another reason the GOP wants to get rid of unions is because, quite frankly, they don't want to pay people that much. Non-union teachers are cheaper than union teachers, just as one example. Less money going to the employees means there are more funds to funnel to the company owners.

And that second part is the portion I really have a problem with. We have wages that have stagnated for the middle class for the past 30+ years while income for the executive class are climbing higher than a Saturn V rocket. And at the same time wages for the lower class have been dropping! The people with the least are getting even less, while those with the most get an even bigger share of the pie.

And yet it's still not enough. So we have business owners who are complaining about unions, regulations, minimum wage laws, health care, and on and on. Social Security, Medicaid, ACA, are all treated as entitlements that must be eliminated at all costs. Or, better yet in their play book, funneled into the feeding trough of private businesses so they can make a bundle off of the public. Hence the cry for school vouchers, charter schools, Social Security privatization, banking deregulation, utility deregulation, airline deregulation, and on and on.

At what point do we say the rich are rich enough and do something that will help the other 90% of Americans? The wealthy do not need anymore help--they've already got every advantage handed to them on a silver platter. Give the rest of us a break for once.


Very clear and concise presentation!

I'm not sure why government jobs are "bad" aside from ideology. Republicans seem to think that public and private sectors compete rather than support each other which is yet another example of magical economic thinking.

MN vs. KS vs. WI

MN is the clear winner here, in all categories.
Who are these candidates trying to fool?

Low information voters...

...basically their base.


would those Republicans rely on facts, when they so often get in the way of ideology. Those clowns couldn't have an original thought of their own if a gun were held to their heads; they can however, spout that drivel coming from Faux news with such vigor it almost sounds good( Except for the facts part).

Not a Fair Comparison

Give their policies time. It might take 25 years or more for Brownback's and Walker's trickle down policies to sprinkle pennies on the poor. Heck, I'm still waiting for something from Reagan.

Check back when a third of the population has died from overwork, pollution and lack of healthcare. The numbers will look a lot better at that time.

The first comment...

...and the article, reminded me of a game I like to play, "GOP or The Onion." Think about it...its really tough to tell sometimes...


the jokes just write themselves.

Lets see who we have as Republican examples

Here are recent examples of Republicans, and I mean all Republicans, and how they manage. We have George W. Bush who brought the country to its knees. Then we have Tim Pawlenty who left the state after he amassed a 5-6 BILLION dollar debt. Why do I throw all Republicans in with Bush and Pawlenty, because they were lock step with the Bush and Pawlenty decisions. Once upon a time there were moderate Republicans who would speak out, but don't now. Moderates have been drummed out of the party. Too bad because the Republicans won't be a viable party until the moderates return. Republicans have become the poison pill politicians of America. Everything the Republicans propose, knowingly, contains a poison pill designed to kill any legislation. Good enough examples and reasons not to trust or vote for a Republican.

Don't forget

Tony Sutton and his stellar management of the Minnesota Republican party's finances. A million or two in debt that they have yet to recover from.


So if Ventura, Pawlenty and the GOP were doing such a good job over the past ~15 years, why again did Dayton and the DFL start "taxing and spending" more just last year. Are they trying to ruin a good thing?


The taxing and spending chant.

It's in the constitution. That's what governments do.

Some better than others.

Change Why

If things were bad here, then change would have made sense. Yet as the writer says, everything was great. Yet the DFL and Dayton chose to change the winning formula. Only time will tell what the consequences of their actions are.

Things were going swimmingly under Pawlenty?

A "winning formula" that Dayton changed? You mean he balanced the budget without accounting tricks?

That's not the way I recall it. Nor did the Wall Street Journal:

"But now, Minnesota faces financial problems. Mr. Pawlenty's critics there say they stem from short-term funding maneuvers that were used during his tenure to patch over shortfalls—and to put off tough decisions to align Minnesota's tax base with its government spending.

Minnesota's projected budget gap for fiscal 2012, expressed as a percentage of the state's total general fund, ranks fourth-highest in the nation, behind Alabama, Nevada and California, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures."

Wall Street Journal


Personally I liked the closing paragraph best.

"Allies of Mr. Pawlenty concede the governor presided over a lot of short-term maneuvering, but said they were warranted due to the recession and depressed tax receipts. "These are things you save for a rainy day, but there was more than just rain outside in 2008 and 2009," said Minnesota State Rep. King Banaian, a Republican. "It was a real storm.""

I think many Minnesotans appreciated that the GOP held tight on the reins of government spending and was creative with borrowing low interest money when tax receipts were down. In fact I think many Minnesotans thought public employees should have felt the recession more like they were.

Now the economy has recovered and the DFL raised taxes more than they needed to. So what did they do with the surplus? Did they give it back to those who were over charged?

No they gave it to the people who are most likely to vote for them this Fall. Makes sense if you want to win the next election. Doesn't make sense if you want to keep the state thriving.


Any thoughts on how to keep government spending growing at just over the inflation rate?

Even during those stingy GOP years it kept growing faster. Now with the DFL in charge it surged.

I am not sure how to promote significant productivity and efficiency gains within the Public space? It is not like they are likely to go bankrupt or get fired if they are wasteful or inefficient, the public employee unions have taken care of that. Besides the fact that they have no competition.

It seems to me the only way citizens can drive improvements in that space is to keep budgets tight and expectations high. Whereas it seems to me the DFL just wants to give them more money and trust them to do what's right.


Its not like they're gonna go bankrupt or get fired for being inefficient or wasteful. First off, will you conservatives ever get it through your heads that laziness is NOT the baseline mindset for every person in the world? I don't know how you think, but I always try to assume the best from folks until proven otherwise.
Secondly, are you honestly trying to suggest that the private sector is some bastion of efficiency and resourcefulness? Pick any company that pays off an executive who tanks with a package thats a good percentage of their yearly revenue and explain to me how that qualifies as an efficient use of funds. Not to mention rampant nepotism by management towards their favorites ("yes" men and women). None of which is controllable by their customers or often by the businesses themselves as it goes unreported or is ignored. Spare me the line that its "punished by the marketplace" because I should hope your smart enough to recognize that while that sounds good in theory, the reality is often not so perfect.

Not Lazy Just Focused

I don't think that Public employees are lazy, I think they are humans. Therefore they are focused on the area they are working in and want to make it better. Therefore:

The accountants will seek more personnel and tools to do a great job.
The teachers will seek more personnel and tools to do a great job.
The DOT folks will seek more personnel and tools to do a great job.
The legislative folks will seek more personnel and tools to do a great job.
etc, etc, etc

The down side is that it is difficult for these folks to optimize head count, systems and tools since they work seperately. That is why constraining resources and managing the "business/ govt" is so important. Without it the entity grows ineffective and expensive.

Besides who reading this does not think they are worth more than they are currently paid?

It's very simple

If you want low taxes and low services - efficient government - move to South Carolina or some state like that.

If quality of life is important to you then move to a state like Minnesota.

"the DFL just wants to give them more money and trust them to do what's right"

That's your opinion.

Mine is that the GOP in Minnesota has recently demonstrated fiscal irresponsibility by running a deficit - concealed by gimmicks - as well as shutting the government down in a short lived temper tantrum while they were in control.

Who is right?

That's why we have elections. See you Tuesday and in November at the ballot box.


Another bad example from the MN GOP: they ran up two million dollar deficit for their own party that they're only now digging their way out of. They had to negotiate rent reduction with their previous landlord and still move their offices to cheaper digs.

Not only do they do a terrible job of running the state, but they can't run their own finances.


""the DFL just wants to give them more money and trust them to do what's right" That's your opinion."

Please share with me what the DFL has introduced in the way of accountability measures along with this extra money they allocated. I like Terri Bonoff because she is the only DFL politician I have heard talk about the importance of holding the public employees accountable for excellent performance. Her area of focus was K-12 education at the time.

Are we better off than when the GOP was in control?

The answer is obvious.


If the electorate doesn't like the way the business of government is being done then they throw the bums out. See last election.

Why look back; see this

Why look back; see this election.

One level lower

How is the system holding bureaucrats and the other public employees accountable for spending our money effectively and efficiently?

Politicians come and go... However the bureaucrats, public employees and their unions are eternal. Thoughts?

Seriously, Mr. Appelen ..

Don't continue to ask me the same question when it has already been answered.

Thoughts? On accountability?

I previously said that elections are where accountability comes in. If the terrible things that you predict will happen when the DFL is in control do actually happen, they will not be re-elected. End of story.

Now you may not like that answer, but please don't ask the same question over and over again. You waste my time and that of other readers.

I often think that is the

I often think that is the point.

Not answered

From your answer, it sounds like you believe that it is okay for the DFL to spend public funds without specifying success criteria and over sight for the recipients of those funds.

Sounds about right. Thank you.

And as you said, the voters will need to determine if that is an acceptable management method.

MN Economic stats

MN libs always want to compare to Wisconsin (and now like to add KS to the mix...where some good reforms were overdone, mismanaged, bad luck, whatever...).

First--I don't know why we always want to compare with WI. Whatever bad habits MN has...WI has worse. They were farther down the road of public-sector-employee control of state government, and they exceed MN (at #5 in the nation vs #6 in MN for total tax-burden placed on its citizens.

I have looked into this fairly deeply and can see why, though, that they do not want to add IA, ND, SD, and NE to the mix. They lead MN in many historical BLS stats--2006-to-present.

A good bit of the article is cherry-picking the data


Actually that was REPUBLICAN candidates for state office who wanted to compare Minnesota to Wisconsin and Kansas. The author of this story simply took their own line and ran the numbers.

Now if you think Minnesota compares unfavorably to our other surrounding states, I invite you to write your own article and present your findings. It sounds like you've already done the research, so it should be a slam dunk. I'll look forward to reading your findings.

Why Wisconsin and Kansas?

Did you read the article:

"the Republican candidates have all emphasized that they will follow economic policies similar to those of Sam Brownback in Kansas and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. This includes tax cuts, reduced business regulation, laws to limit union power, and resistance to the Affordable Care Act."

From what I have read this seems like a true statement. To cite but one example take the words of Jeff Johnson, the likely GOP nominee:

At a May Southeast Metro Tea Party gathering, GOP endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson discussed his plan “to go all Scott Walker on Minnesota.”

The Problem with “Going All Scott Walker on Minnesota”


Could you be a little more specific in your criticism. Seems like a pretty solid article to me with facts and figures. All of Scott Honour's bases have been covered with Minnesota coming out on top.

Are the facts and figures wrong? How so?

To call an article like this "cherry-picking" just shows how desperate the GOP is, coming into the general election. All of the Minnesota GOP candidates for governor have painted themselves into a corner on economic issues. To imitate the economic policies of Wisconsin is irrational and almost suicidal for the candidates. I almost feel sorry for them having to say such things with a straight face.

Why only BLS stats? That's a very small part of the data.

Using that data tells you different things than this data. Why is the BLS data relevant to this discussion. What do you think it measures that is so relevant to the comparison of state performance from the BLS?

The newest data I could find for tax burdens was from 2011 at the Tax Foundation.

If you concerned about taxes why not look at the tax incidence and Minnesota where lower income folks pay a greater percentage of their income in total tax burden.

Dear Lord! Have you ever

Dear Lord! Have you ever been to/lived in any of those states? Even if this article was "cherry picking," I'd say that it was set up with as much advantage given to GOP strategy as possible. If any of them lead in BLS stats, it's purely a result of lack of statistical significance. SD and ND have about a fifth of the population of MN, and NE about a third; IA has about 60% of MN's population. And MN isn't all that populous, itself. With those kind of numbers, BLS data doesn't really speak to the reality on the ground.

Coming from South Dakota, and glad to never go back, I can tell you that we're getting far more bang for our buck than that state. Also, I've spent enough time in NE and ND to know that I'd not trade a few extra tax dollars for a life in either of them. Can't tell you much about IA first-hand (been there, but not much), but it's amazing how many of them come here to be successful.

Good work

Dr. Johnston.


Thank you for reminding us how good things have been for a long time and that recent changes are not the cause of this recent success.

Those consequences, for better or worse are yet to come. I mean the changes have only been in effect for a little over a year.

Good point John. It seems the

Good point John. It seems the leftist commentariat is either unaware, or is ignoring the fact that although Dayton and the DFL raised them by $2 billion last year, tax revenue in Minnesota has been down three of the past 4 months.

As the Rev. Wright might say, the chickens comin' home to roost.

What the right wing "commentariat" seems to forget

is that Minnesota actually has a rainy day fund, with real money in it, to wit:

"Minnesota’s so-called rainy day fund is now at an all-time high, thanks to a law approved earlier this year.

State finance officials announced Tuesday they deposited $150 million more into the state’s budget reserves, bringing the total to $811 million, according to a news release.

The extra money in the reserves gives the state a bit more leeway should it face a deficit in the future."


This is what happens when the adults are in charge.

From the same link:

"The Legislature, with backing from Gov. Mark Dayton, approved this money in the spring as part of a larger tax cut law, but it didn’t take effect until July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.

The new law also says one-third of future budget surpluses will go to the state’s rainy-day fund.

This is the first time the state has increased its budget reserve since 2001, when it was set at $652 million, release says. Doing this gives the the state long-term stability if finances take a dip, budget watchers say, according to the Star Tribune."

Interest Rates

So let me get this straight. MN has record budget reserves and a record bonding bill in the same year.

How does that make sense to anyone here?

MN is likely earning almost nothing on the cash reserves, while they are paying bond interest rates on the borrowed money.

Simple answer

Bonding interest rates are low and the budget reserves will hopefully keep republicans from screwing the educational system.

Savings Accounts

I would rather have more of that reserve money in the tax payer's savings account and checkbook rather than the governments. And the school districts were able to borrow when they needed to during the recession, so I am not sure what you mean by screwing.

Why should the schools be

Borrowing money and paying interest? Because the Republicans had to balance the budget on somebody's back and chose the kid's educational system

Governments pay for capital investment through bonding

just like borrow for a house or car or charging your new washer dryer. Generally the payback period is less than the life of the investment, although I have has a washing machine where it was close.


If you had 40k in savings, and needed to buy a new car that you could pay for outright by emptying your savings account, OR you could accept a low monthly payment, knowing that you currently are (and can reasonably assume to be) gainfully employed and can continue making that payment, which option would you choose? The principle is similar.

401K vs Savings

401Ks are special because there are tax repercussions from pulling the money out early. So let's try a basic savings account.

If I have $40,000 in my passbook savings earning 1% interest.
Should I take out a 3% loan for $20,000 or reduce my savings account by $20,000.

By the way, if you have good credit. You should spend the cash and keep the home equity account for some unforseen problem. And I think MN is good for it.

It's no trick to create a

It's no trick to create a budget surplus, Bill. As any Democrat can tell you, you just have to raise taxes.

So Dayton raised taxes $2 Billion and poof! Surplus.

Problem is, when you do that, people pull back and you see marked drops in tax revenue...just as Minnesota is seeing, right now. It's no surprise to adults.

In the long run ...

People realize that raising taxes is sometimes necessary to maintain the quality of life we have here in Minnesota. It is also better to pay for things than put them on the credit card as was done under the last GOP regime.

Apparently Minnesota voters don't want to live in a state like Mississippi or South Carolina.

Wisconsin and Kansas..

Wisconsin and Kansas have tax policies that are more favorable to higher income earners. They are valued rather than demonized as they are in this state. Here we have a governor who portrays high income earners as villains and feels the need to punish them because he and his followers have no idea of what it takes to generate prosperity.

Do you have a citation for

Do you have a citation for the "villain" and "punish" assertions? If not, why did you write this?

April 15

Bruce, I get one every year on April 15th. Now do you understand?


So you think roads, police, fire protection, and other public services are something other people should pay for while you enjoy the benefits for free?

That's not very American.

What exactly are we supposed to understand?

that you equate paying taxes to being demonized, vilified and feel your ability to prosper is emasculated? I'm just curious...what do you live here then? Inevitably the answer is always the same...that you have good job here, your kids like their school, there's lot's to do and its a beautiful, safe state in which to live.

No citation

He just wrote it as a sort of reflex action to reading anything even mildly unfavorable to the GOP. Just a little dribble of what used to be sound and fury, certainly signifying nothing.

The opposite is the case

Pavel's is 100% false, according to libertarian-leaning think-tanks The MacIver Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The MacIver Institute is "The Free Market Voice for Wisconsin", and the NCPA is "a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. Our goal is to develop and promote private, free-market alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector."

Links here-

Per a recent study by MacIver Institute ( ), page 1

"Southern states are not the only ones to hold a tax advantage over Wisconsin. That same couple would be better off in Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota. The only neighboring state that has a worse tax climate for this couple is Illinois...

The State Tax Calculator shows us that a single 25-year-old earning $30,000 is better off in Wisconsin than Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. But, as this taxpayer earns more and purchases a home, it is actually advantageous to move to Iowa or Minnesota.
Essentially, the state is penalizing taxpayers for being more successful."

Now, whereas it is true that the study makes many unsubstantiated claims unrelated to its central premise (most glaringly, that tax rates have any measurable impact on emigration patterns), the fact that a libertarian organization specifically calls out Wisconsin as being hostile to high income earners when compared to Minnesota rather clearly calls out the utter falsehood of Pavel's statements.

Facts, people, not dogma.

Back in 2010...

Back in 2010 we head the same rhetoric when the GOP took control of the Minnesota Legislature: “Elect us and we’ll fix the [GOP broken] economy!” Once elected and sworn in they tackled their real agenda, which had nothing to do with the economy.

The next two years were wasted by the divisive GOP anti-gay marriage amendment – an unconstitutional effort to deny the LGBT community equal rights.

Now the GOP wants us to believe that they will “fix” a state economy which is running better than that of our GOP controlled neighbor? No, no way. Further, a quick look at the GOP state platform shows that the anti-gay marriage is still part of their backward, 1950’s agenda. Do we want to go there again?

More surprisingly, though, is the GOP state platform position of bringing back the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy; very few in the military would be willing to discuss that nonsensical, non-starter idea.

So what does the GOP have to offer? Two GOP candidates for senator (Jim Abeler & David Carlson) portray themselves as different from the rest of the pack running in Tuesday’s primary and from those already serving in Congress. On social issues they are, yet little else sets them apart. Abeler’s “issues” page, like Madden’s, lacks specifics (complete nothing there).

Carlson gets a bit more specific on some issues, but like virtually every Republican he clearly supports our bloated military and its Pentagon leadership: “America must be strong. We must stand up for our allies, and stand up for our interests globally.” No mention of what those nebulous “global interests” are, and no mention of Pentagon greed, waste, failures, unnecessary secrecy, collusion in in the immorality that is Guantanamo; or worse, Pentagon dishonesty to those who serve. It’s simply the status quo for that bureaucracy, or make it larger and more uncontrollable.

By reigning in public

By reigning in public employee unions, Gov Walker is saving taxpayers millions every year. Wisconsin public schools are no better or worse than Minnesota. Wisconsin public infrastructure, roads, bridges are far far superior to Minnesota's.

In addition, Wisconsin residents are not on the hook for the millions it will take to backfill the hole Obamacare is digging.

Plain and simple

It's time to move to Wisconsin.

Let's see...what's the word

I'm looking for...oh yeah, BS.
I have family in Wisconsin and I went to school there, so I get back quite often. Once you get off 94, their roads are no better than Minnesota. And Wisconsin taxpayers ARE on the hook for millions of dollars, due to your boy Walker borrowing money and shifting debt to balance the budget. Scott Walker has borrowed more money than any administration in the history of the state.

Yeah, except the vast

Yeah, except the vast majority of borrowing has gone...guess where? Roads and bridges. Which is why Wisconson's don't look like the goat trails that pass for streets in St. Paul & Minneapolis.

In other words, Walker has borrowed money to finance things the people use; no sign of empty choo-choo trains or massively failed "free" healthcare plans.

Thanks for playing.


There are no signs of empty trains, or failed, or even free, healthcare plans here.

Long drive from the Atlantic seaboard

I'm from Wisconsin, was there this weekend in fact. Historically you'd be right, of course would have accepted the higher gas taxes that brought it to pass? That and the dairy industry paved many rural miles to ensure access for milk transportation. Lately however, the rural highways have been neglected, in favor of Walker's southeastern base of power. There's a reason many folks from Western Wisconsin regard folks from the southeast with a skeptical eye, its basically a different state, run by wholly different folks. Btw the roads in nw WI were garbage, once the one main road, gonna take a couple washes to get the dirt off.

I thought borrowing

Was bad according to appelen. Can you two get on the same page? LOL


"Wisconsin public infrastructure, roads, bridges are far far superior to Minnesota's."

I must have been in a different Wisconsin than Mr. Swift because as I traveled the SE area of Wisconsin (Milwaukee down to the Illinois line), those roads were easily the worst roads I have traveled on. I came back to Minneapolis and told the neighbors how truly awful WI roads and highways are - at least the ones I traveled.

You think?

If it's such a good thing to roll those public employee unions, why didn't your man Walker do it across the board? Screw the teachers; but, I like the cops...And, like most of your "facts" I suspect two "fars" is better than one and less than three?

You're right. I'd look for

You're right. I'd look for Walker to give the rest of the public union members a much needed trimming in the near future.

as Henry Higgins said "Why can't MN be more like WS or KA?

And Henry found out the answer: It's a bad idea to be more like Wisconsin [or Kansas].

5 measures. MN is first/best in 3 of 5 comparisons with the states, Kansas and Wisconsin, we're supposed to emulate; a very close second in another measure and unable to beat the N. Dakota oil boom but better than the 2 states we're compared against. Looks as if a Democratic governor and state legislature really knows how to meet Republican goals.

Mn GOP Moderates Have a Different View of Minnesota

The article provides sound data which can be supported by MN legacy as the high quality/highly educated workforce state. This evolved due to both GOP and DFl interest in good government first -- then politics-- now the GOP seeks to cut and reduce spending- a good topic but only if lnked to improving the services and quality of life in Minnestoa. What are the GOP in 2014 For? vs. Against everything>If I were running for governor or the US senate I would have a vision for MN that speaks to links to the new economy-- educating for the types of jobs-- we have the industry base to be leaders in a new economy-- I see MN education being at the front of innovation and preparrtion for the jobs of today and the future. We will do that by building on the partnership of business and government that has been a MN centerpiece for 150 years. The GOP in MN this year is decades out of step-- As a GOP very moderate I look for the future with innovation and new actions. That is leadership todays GOP and most DFL are simply managers -let the staff manage- let the elected lead.

Dave Broden

More like Wisconsin, eh?

Rural Homestead Property Taxes ($70,000 value)
#1 New Hampshire $2,118
#7 Wisconsin $1,490
#23 Minnesota $846
Average: $893

Rural Homestead Property Taxes ($150,000 value)
#1 New York $4,665
#6 Wisconsin $3,369
#18 Minnesota $2,458
Average: $2,044

Top 50 Apartment Building Property Taxes ($600,000 value, $30,000 fixtures)
#1 Michigan $26,530
#5 Wisconsin $18,006
#19 Minnesota $12,850
Average: $11,358

Top 50 Urban Homestead Property Taxes ($150,000 value)
#1 Michigan $4,988
#3 Wisconsin $4,113
#20 Minnesota $2,237
Average: $2,260

Top 50 Urban Homestead Property Taxes ($300,000 value)
#1 Michigan $9,976
#2 Wisconsin $8,419
#19 Minnesota $5,061
Average: $4,684

Top 50 Homestead Property Tax for a Median-Value Home
#1 California Median Home: $808,500 (San Jose) Tax: $10,403
#6 Wisconsin Median Home: $208,700 (Milwaukee) Tax: $5,798
#23 Minnesota Median Home: $199,600 (Mnpls) Tax: $3,171
Average: $3,474

Top 50 Commercial Property Taxes ($1 million value, $200,000 fixtures)
#1 Michigan $48,951
#3 Minnesota $43,620
#8 Wisconsin $34,369
Average: $25,124

Top 50 Commercial Property Taxes ($25 million value, $5 million fixtures)
#1 Michigan $1,223,772
#3 Minnesota $1,129,205
#9 Wisconsin $861,168
Average: $639,089

Source: 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study, March 2014, conducted jointly by the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Compared to my former home of Colorado, Minnesota is a high-tax state, but Minnesota also has state facilities and programs that Colorado does not. I think it fair that commercial property pay more in taxes than residential property, though my viewpoint might change if technology allowed a truly significant portion of the workforce (say, 1/3) to work from home, at which point some distinction may need to be made between “income-producing” residential property and ordinary homes that don’t have people deriving their primary income while working out of them, but I don’t expect to live long enough to see that, even if it occurs.

On the whole, Wisconsin and Minnesota are in pretty much the same tax arena for commercial property, while Wisconsin taxes residential property at a MUCH higher rate than does Minnesota. People enthused about the Scott Walker tax regime may want to take a closer look at the facts before jumping on board that bandwagon.

And of course, we have ample historical evidence from more than two centuries of American history showing that “trickle-down” economics is the “let them eat cake” of economic theory. It has never worked as its proponents would like us to believe.

Similar claims got a half truth from WI newspaper

This is a well-worn topic that was debated a year ago when DFL Rep. Joe. Atkins made a similar claim. The Milwaukee Journal, a left-leaning newspaper, did an analysis of the competing claims
via PolitiFact Wisconsin. Its conclusion ( gave Atkins a half truth. Clearly Mr. Johnston is an advocate for DFL policies, so he selects statistics that place that party in a favorable light. It was a meaningless exercise whose only purpose was to make the bulk of MinnPost readers feel good. As PolitiFact demonstrated, a different set of standards produces a different result.

Claiming that the Milwaukee Journal

is a liberal paper just rendered everything you posted afterwards as moot. Those of us that actually lived in the state know better and even state republicans will never make that claim.


As to the leanings of that paper

Or you could actually read the story

I guess I'd declare the declaration of "kicking butt" as accurate. I guess you can declare it a "half-truth" if anything short of a shut-out is your standard. I'd classify the newspaper's verdict of "half-truth" as an untruth.

Wisconsin and Kansas?

Some more statistics to toss into the discussion. These are from Measure of America 2013-2014, which ranks US states according to a small basket of well-being indicators:

On pp 45-46 (using 2010 numbers), the report finds:

The overall human development ranking:

MN = 7
WI = 18
KS = 24

2. Less than high school education %:

MN = 8.2
WI = 9.9
KS = 10.8

3. At least bachelor’s degree %:

MN = 31.8
WI = 26.3
KS = 29.8

4. Graduate degree %:

MN = 10.3
WI = 9.0
KS = 10.5

5. Life expectancy at birth

MN = 81.1
WI = 80.0
KS = 78.7

So, if you go by just this report, the GOP candidates have it exactly backwards. It goes without saying that they’re not interested in a broader picture of what matters, dogmatically committed as they are to a political philosophy in which lowering taxes and deregulation are either panaceas and/or the only things that really matter, other than, of course, the social agenda of the religious right. MN must do better than to allow itself to be lowered into a political discussion in which taxes and regulation are the main parameters of discussion.

One More Try

Eric and Ray,
Do you truly believe that the changes Dayton and the DFL made <15 mths ago account for all this good news?

What is your rationale for giving credit to the DFL when the GOP was in control for more than a decade before this recent change?

The GOP was never "in control"

At best TPaw had gridlock, thankfully. What good occurred happened in spite of, not due to the republican in the Governor's mansion. Again we had the good fortune to only be forced to endure 2 short years of GOP dominance in the legislature, tempered by the strength of Dayton as the executive.


I miss gridlock.


Of course you would miss gridlock. The rest of the state prefers to make progress instead of simply being obstructionists.


Gridlock seems like it has a negative connotation. Maybe we should call it consensus governing.

Look what happened in Iraq when the Shiites chose to ignore the Sunnis. Having a dominant party is often not a good thing when they chose to ignore the concerns of a significant portion of the population.


"Turd Sandwich" seems like it has a negative connotation. Maybe we should call it an "Ordure Panini."

Oh, and even though you lost the last election badly, your concerns have not been ignored by the DFL. Just because you don't get everything you want when your preferred political party gets drubbed and loses control of the executive and legislative branches does not mean you are oppressed.


If the pendulum swings back, I am sure the GOP will not oppress the DFL in the same way.

DFL ignoring Conservative Minnesotans:
- legalized gay marriage
- setup ACA insurance exchange
- raised taxes on wealthy and businesses/consumers
- increased spending significantly
- passed HUGE bonding bill to be paid back by our kids
- try to unionize daycare providers
- passed Vikings stadium
- anti-bullying law
- minimum wage increase
- tax cuts to those who pay little in taxes

I am think they are feeling a bit ignored and oppressed.

Excellent list

Take out the stadium deal (a bill introduced by a Republican, which passed with bipartisan support) and you've listed a platform I can vote for.

Again, Republicans were not ignored, they just chose to make themselves irrelevant through their own intransigence and unwillingness to compromise with the party that crushed them in the 2012 election... an election which represented a total repudiation of the MNGOP's agenda.

Over Reach

The GOP over reached on social issues and paid.

The DFL has likely over reached on social and economic issues.

We will see if the DFL pays in November.


The MNGOP will almost certainly reclaim some seats. My hunch is that their gains will be less than expected, and slim where they do win... which, given the Repub (and minority party) advantage in a midterm election, will ultimately be translated as a loss, even if small gains are made) I also fully expect Mark Dayton to get re-elected.

Though, given that the DFL didn't woefully mismanage their own finances like the MNGOP did, they actually CAN pay...

To be fair, the GOP also told

To be fair, the GOP also told Minnesota that they were going to be 'laser-focused' on jobs and the economy, and all we got was a government shutdown, mounting debt, school funding shifts, and failed social engineering experiments.

The DFL campaigned on raising taxes, instituting the ACA (Obamacare), raising the minimum wage, support for marriage equality, and then worked to put those policies in place when they were elected. The distinction is clear.

Mounting debt

Just a reminder that "mounting debt" meant that citizens got to keep their money during a temporary recession. And the government departments carried low low interest loans for a couple of years. Which of course were to be repaid when the economy recovered.

Instead the DFL raised taxes which led to an excess in government revenues when the economy recovered. And instead of returning it to the tax payers who overpaid, they disbursed it to their supporters.

If any taxpayer overpaid,

If any taxpayer overpaid, they would have received a refund from the IRS. Just because you don't like the marginal rate increase doesn't mean people are overpaying.

The rest falls under the category of "damned lies."

Marriage Penalty

They even refused to come in line with the Feds on fixing the marriage penalty.

Oh, I get it now....

in Appelen's mind, it's perfectly okay for Republicans to push through their agenda at will, but when Democrats are in power, they should build consensus, even thought they were duly elected, and in the case of Minnesota, overwhelmingly so. No wonder they stoop to calling Obama divisive...he doesn't do whatever THEY want. Please proceed....


I am some what of a moderate. I like gridlock / consensus all the time.

The Left and Rights are too far from center for my taste.

Gridlock and Consensus are

Gridlock and Consensus are NOT the same thing. They're not even (necessarily) related.

And with due respect, I (personally) don't consider you to be a political moderate. I think you have a moderate approach to engaging and at least attempting to fathom the 'other side' of the political spectrum, and accept that there are certain political realities that require compromise, but I think that makes you a moderate in the same way that Dick Lugar would be considered a moderate.