Our presentation on how to build a One Minnesota policy framework, bridging the metro-rural divide, was one of the most popular breakout sessions at the annual League of Minnesota Cities conference, held last week in Rochester. From the League’s summary of our presentation: “Matt Schmit (Policy & Projects Director for Growth & Justice) described the lack of direction that comes from divisive rhetoric…By delving deeper into the complexities of topics such as transportation, education, water quality, infrastructure, and all other issues that tend to polarize people, Schmit believes that eventually we can find the common ground that we need to become One Minnesota.”
Our latest blogpost describes troubling growth in regional inequality within Minnesota, and also within Greater Minnesota, and in St. Louis County and northern Minnesota in particular. The author is Tom Legg, a retired U of M faculty member and a Growth & Justice Policy Fellow, who lives in Aitkin County and has roots in the Iron Range. The article, reprinted from the Ely Timberjay newspaper, points to a growing disparity between the affluent suburbs of the Twin Cities (and even affluent Duluth suburbs such as Hermantown) and the rest of the small towns and “deep rural” portions of northeastern Minnesota. Legg writes: “The fruits of Minnesota’s relatively successful economy are concentrated in the Twin Cities suburban ring. Leave that ring in any direction…and the story changes dramatically, and not for the better. The worst direction to head is north.”
From adoption services, to college tuition assistance, to state parks, to animal health protection, and in myriad other ways, our state and local tax dollars provide a foundation for community vitality, AND for business growth. We highly recommend #OurMN, a series of video presentations accessible on Twitter, that describe in intriguing detail the enormous and often unappreciated value of taxes and public investments. Too many Minnesotans buy into an anti-tax and anti-government narrative and do not understand these fundamentals about the benefits of a strong public sector.
“Where does (the 2017 legislative outcome) leave Minnesota? With ongoing expenditures spent only as one-time money and accounting shifts, an uncertain economy, possible continued decreases in projected revenue, an unsustainable tax bill and a small budgetary balance in the future, it is quite possible, if not probable, that in two years we will face a significant deficit.” –– State Sen. Richard Cohen of St. Paul, a senior member and former Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, in Star Tribune commentary, with subhead “Too often both Republican and DFL legislators fail to take into account what is happening beyond the state's borders.”