Monday, September 8, 2014

Four Reasons Why Minnesota Is Beating Wisconsin

Despite Scott Walker's flailing attempts to spin it otherwise, the fact is that Minnesota is outperforming Wisconsin in job creation and almost every other economic indicator.  There is a multitude of reasons why this is so, but I want to point out what I believe to be four of the bigger reasons.

Health care

The average person in Minnesota pays about half of what a person in Wisconsin would pay for health insurance.  The reason for this is explained by State Senator Kathleen Vinehout:
First, it is important to note that Wisconsin does not significantly differ from Minnesota in per-person health costs. Wisconsin is slightly more expensive, but per-person costs in both states are a little under $6,000 a year.

Second, Minnesota made very different decisions than Wisconsin last year. Minnesota chose a state-based marketplace, chose to keep parents up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level on Medicaid and chose to expand coverage of Medicaid for all people up to 133 percent of FPL. This means a single person who makes up to about $15,000 a year can get on the Gopher state’s version of BadgerCare. The state also chose to vigorously use rate review authorities.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, decided to let folks buy insurance through the federal marketplace. The governor and lawmakers who voted for the state budget dropped BadgerCare coverage for any adult who made a little more than $11,000 a year. The state decided to not use its rate review authorities.
Senator Vinehout goes on to say that by not expanding the Medicaid, Walker is forcing those who are going through the marketplace for their insurance to pay 8 -10% more.

Needless to say, the more people are being force to pay for their health care insurance, the less they have to spend on anything else.  This, in turn, slows down the economy, costing us even more jobs.

Minimum Wage

Walker said that the issue of raising the minimum wage in Wisconsin is only "a distraction."

Meanwhile, Minnesota has raised their minimum wage to $8.00 per hour - even for food service jobs, which are still $2.30 per hour in Wisconsin - and will bump it up to $9.50 per hour by 2016.  Obviously, this puts more money into the pockets of the workers who are much more likely to spend that money, stimulating the state's economy.  The difference is so great that many people in the border towns are going across the state line to get those jobs, passing up similar jobs in Wisconsin to do so.

It should be noted that Mary Burke, Walker's gubernatorial opponent, is for raising the state's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.  While that still falls short of a living wage, it would help tens of thousands of people avoid losing their homes while still keeping food on the table and buying necessities, like medication.

Not only would raising the minimum wage help stimulate Wisconsin's stagnant economy, it could also help deal with the revenue shortfall we are facing under Walker's maladministration.

Equality Pay

Another area that Minnesota leads Wisconsin is in the way they treat women.

Minnesota has passed the Women's Economic Security Act, which not only benefits women, but the state as a whole:
The law provides an expansive host of benefits, including requirements that employers provide basic accommodations for pregnant workers, and protections for mothers who need to express breast milk. It raises the minimum wage, and provides a number of protections intended to address the economic consequences of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault, including an expansion of unemployment insurance and allowing employees who are victims of violence to use paid sick time. It requires private businesses with 40 or more employees seeking state contracts above $500,000—that’s about 1,000 state contractors—to have an “equal pay certificate” verifying that the average compensation for employees in similar positions do not vary by gender. It contains provisions similar to those within the stalled federal Paycheck Fairness Act, such as not allowing employers to retaliate against employees for discussing their wages. It provides funding to promote increased employment of women in highly paid industries where they are dramatically underrepresented, including construction. (Currently, 6 percent of construction companies in the state are owned by a woman.)
Compare that to Walker, who actually weakened Wisconsin's pay equality laws and made things more unsafe for women who are the victim's of domestic and/or sexual violence.  Thanks to Walker's misguided policies, not only are Wisconsin women making less money, some are forced to decide between their paltry paycheck and their personal safety.

This is not good for women and not good for the state.


Obviously, we all know about Walker's claim to infamy, Act 10, and the devastating effect it had on the state's economy by taking $3 billion out of the economy and into the coffers of Walker's wealthy supporters.  This has led to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs across the state in both the public and private sectors.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, unions are respected and allowed to be the voice for the workers, which has already led to two major successes.

One of the wins for workers is that allowed 27,000 in-home health workers join a union:
Thousands of in-home health care providers in Minnesota voted to create their own union, the state announced Tuesday after tallying the results.

With the union now authorized, the Service Employees International Union, which organized the election, can negotiate with the state for wages and benefits for the estimated 27,000 eligible workers. About 60 percent of the roughly 5,800 voters who cast ballots approved unionization, the Bureau of Mediation Services said.

Union supporters who care for sick, elderly and disabled patients in their own homes celebrated the creation of their new union as a sign that better pay is on the horizon.

"We are now not invisible. We are 26,000 strong," said Debra Howze, a home care worker in north Minneapolis. The state has to "deal with a force to be reckoned with," she said.
Unsurprisingly, the National Right to Work Legal Foundation has vowed to fight this and to reinstate the plantation economy that they desire so desperately, regardless of how many people it harms.

The other huge win for working people in Minnesota came when the anti-union Target agreed to a labor peace agreement that will benefit the workers of janitorial companies that contract with Target:
Following a string of strikes and protests held by low-wage workers in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Minnesota-based retailer Target has agreed to insert language into its vendor contracts urging high labor standards at the firms that clean the company's stores in the area.

According to a draft of the agreement shared with HuffPost, Target will stipulate that the cleaning companies it works with cannot interfere with workers' organizing rights, must follow wage-and-hour laws and must establish worker safety committees.

Significantly, the draft agreement would also compel the subcontractors to bargain with a labor union seeking to represent the workers, so long as the union agreed not to carry out strikes, protests or other "economic interference with Target's operations."

That sort of measure, sometimes referred to as a labor peace agreement, could very well pave the way for subcontracted janitors in Target's Minneapolis-area stores to unionize.
As noted above, these actions will allow workers to get more money, which will go to stimulate the state's economy, which will lead to even more good paying jobs.  Not only will the pay for these workers increase, but they will also be able to negotiate for other benefits such as paid vacations and sick leave.  On top of that, they will have better working conditions, which will protect them as well as their employers.

While the list above is not comprehensive for all of the reasons why Minnesota is outperforming Wisconsin economically.  For example, it doesn't include such obvious other factors such as the fact that Minnesota embraced high speed rail and is benefiting from all the federal funding and jobs that come with it.  However, it does serve to show that on every choice that Walker has made regarding his budgets and policies, he has been absolutely on the wrong side of things.

Sadly, we the ones paying for Walker's mistakes and will continue to do so until we vote him out of office.

It's either that or we all move to Minnesota and I really, really don't want to be a Vikings fan.


  1. Fantastic update about Wisconsin's continued, backward, embarrassing slide into the abyss.

  2. And add marriage equality (which Walker and D-B Van Hollen are STILL fighting), and the fact that Minnesota hasn't cut funding to public education or denigrated teachers like Walker did.

    Where would you want to locate if you had your choice and wanted to raise a family? More things to life than saving $10 on your property taxes.

  3. It also helps that Minnesota only incarcerates 1 for every 7 that Wisconsin incarcerates.

  4. Maybe Minnesotans are the difference as well. Their voting habits suggest that by and large they're more prudent, wiser, possess a stronger understanding of basic math, and are less gullible. Wisconsin voters never, never should have fallen for Walker's schtick.

  5. Actually it is one reason: Scott Walker.