Urban Milwaukee’s Data Wonk: Why is Minnesota outperforming Wisconsin?

Over at Urban Milwaukee, Data Wonk has an interesting comparison between Wisconsin and Minnesota that’s worth reading. Here’s a snippet.

What can we conclude from these comparisons?

First, it is important to caution that comparisons between states are fraught with difficulty. States differ in numerous ways and it extremely difficult to isolate a single cause. These difficulties are compounded with a sample size of two.

Second, it seems clear that Minnesota has managed to develop a more resilient economy than Wisconsin. In every measure it out-performed Wisconsin both during the recession and since. The reasons for these differences are worth serious discussion.

Third, the data offer no support for conservative insistence that Walker’s policies have improved the Wisconsin economy or that Dayton’s, including raising taxes and increasing the minimum wage, have hurt Minnesota’s. By the same token, the data suggest caution for those over-enthusiastic liberal organizations hoping to use the two states to prove the superiority of their preferred policies.

Yet if the economic benefits of the Walker strategy are, at best, undemonstrated, the costs are not. The costs include less environmental protection, lower funding for education at all levels, lower wages and benefits for Wisconsin workers, and a more regressive state tax and spending system at a time when there is growing concern about economic inequality. A policy with demonstrable costs but unproven benefits strikes me as a bad deal.


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