I’ve posted a number of stories (here, here, or here) about the conservative experiment going on in Kansas sponsored by the Koch brothers. It involves (in case you can’t guess) massive tax cuts for business (they pay no taxes), and massive cuts in education, roads, and social services.
Ultra-conservative governor Sam Brownback predicted “enormous prosperity” for the state. Instead their economy is going to hell in a handbasket, accompanied by massive deficits, high unemployment, and – perhaps worst of all – being made fun of by The Daily Show.
But there has to be a silver lining, somewhere. And there is, a few states away in Minnesota. In 2010, that state elected billionaire Mark Dayton to be their governor and now they have one of the best economies in the country. Dayton also turned a $6.2 billion deficit into a $1 billion surplus. How did he do it?
He raised taxes on the rich. Minnesota now has the 4th highest tax rate in the US.
He raised the state minimum wage, and passed a law guaranteeing equal pay for women. Minnesota’s median income is now $8,000 more than the national average.
He made education a budget priority. One third of the budget surplus is going to public schools.
That’s right, Dayton did all those things that right-wingers say will kill jobs and make businesses move somewhere else. But the opposite happened. In fact, Forbes recently ranked Minnesota the 9th-best state for business, and the state’s economic growth is one of the highest in the US.
But comparing Minnesota to Kansas is like comparing apples to oranges, right? Well then, how about comparing Minnesota to Minnesota? The previous governor of Minnesota was Tim Pawlenty, a former Republican candidate for president who called himself Minnesota’s first true fiscal conservative in modern history, and prided himself on never raising taxes. Yes, he’s the schmuck who left the state with the $6.2 billion deficit. And employment in the state increased by a measly 6,200 jobs during his eight year tenure as governor.
Under Dayton, in the last four years the state added 172,000 jobs.
But Kansas still believes in trickle-down economics. And if you have an opinion to the contrary, you better keep it to yourself.