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We’re Not in Kansas, Toto!

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.



  1. Hassan wrote:

    So in the top ten list of best states for businesses, there are many red states. Being from Texas I can say Rick Perry has done extremely good in creating jobs and bringing businesses here.

    So perhaps each state has its own dynamics and needs? What worked in Texas (or any other red state) may not work in Kansas or Minnesota? What worked in Minnesota may not work in Texas or any other state? Perhaps this is exactly how things are supposed to be.

    Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink
  2. Jae wrote:

    We’ve seen fisco-political experiments fail before. Lenin & Stalin really gave theirs a chance.

    Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  3. jerryab wrote:

    Comparing MN to WI–guess who wins?

    Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, the point wasn’t red v. blue states, the point was whether trickle-down economics had any basis in real data.

    JerryAB, speaking of Scott Walker (gov of WI) made a DOOZY of a quote today. Walker claimed that he could take on ISIS because of his experience taking on labor unions, saying “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

    Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
  5. ThatGuy wrote:

    Eh, peaceful union protesters… heavily armed militant organization bent on Armageddon. Tomato Tomato, really.

    Friday, February 27, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink