Gov. Scott Walker was in Minnesota on Tuesday for a presidential campaign event to unveil his health care policy, and MinnPost used the occasion to contrast that state's recent performance with Wisconsin's.
In particular, this: "A majority (of) Minnesotans actually pay a smaller share of their household income toward taxes than Wisconsinites."
Calling comparing Minnesota to Wisconsin "something of a national sport" since Walker, a Republican, and Minnesota's Mark Dayton, a Democrat, took office in 2011, MinnPost dived into the overall tax burdens on residents of the two states.
While Wisconsin's average income tax rate has gone down and Minnesota's has gone up since their respective governors came on board, that hasn't made it cheaper for someone to live in Wisconsin than in Minnesota. MinnPost focused on property taxes, an area where Wisconsin has been near the top in the country.
A 2014 report by the conservative MacIver Institute and Texas-based National Center for Policy Analysis pointed out that renters would fare worse in Minnesota than in Wisconsin because of a higher income tax, but homeowners do better because of the lower property tax rate.
From the MinnPost story:
"Walker didn’t create the higher property taxes, but he also hasn’t been able to do much about them, either. The reason lies in Wisconsin’s state constitution. Unlike Minnesota and all but seven other states, Wisconsin is required to tax all property equally, be it commercial or residential. That means Wisconsin can’t shift any of the tax burden from homeowners to owners of other types of property, as many states do (including Minnesota).
"As a result, Wisconsin’s high property tax essentially wipes out any savings most taxpayers would see due to the lower income, sales and excise taxes compared to Minnesota. In fact, the only group that faces a higher tax burden in Minnesota than in Wisconsin are families with household incomes over $200,000."
Small business owners, meanwhile, generally have it better, tax-wise, in Wisconsin than in Minnesota, but that hasn't led to a run for the border, MinnPost reported.
The president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce said Wisconsin hasn't lured many businesses to Superior.
David Ross said businesses look beyond the "wild incentives" that government bodies dangle in front of them, instead focusing mostly on the quality of life for workers.
A Reuters story in June reported on some companies that moved from Duluth to Superior or opted to add jobs in the latter instead of expanding in Minnesota. But local officials complained that the tax cuts that helped lure those businesses weren't worth heavy spending cuts to education, harbor maintenance and road construction.
"At least one company in Superior has put the tax cuts to good use. With more money going to the bottom line, Kent Precision Foods Group has hired an additional research scientist and a new machine to bottle the thickened beverages it makes for people who have trouble swallowing regular liquids. The company plans to double its staff to 40 thanks in part to incentives from Walker's economic development agency.
"But chief scientist Doug Stetzer worries that Walker's education cuts to the local university will lead to fewer biology graduates.
"'When it comes to the bottom line, the tax cuts are great. When it comes to my future...' He doesn't finish the sentence."