• Minnesota taxpayers subsidize Hollywood superstar's vanity project

    Independent non-profit publishing house Graywolf Press recently released Directing Herbert White, a book of poetry written by Hollywood superstar James Franco. Franco, whose filmography includes the blockbuster Spider-Man trilogy and his Oscar-nominated lead role in 127 Hours, could presumably self-fund and self-publish any vanity project he chooses. And he certainly would not be the first Hollywood star to produce a self-indulgent side project.

  • Transit-oriented underdevelopment

    According to a new study in Regional Science and Urban Economics, the Blue Line (aka Hiawatha light-rail) has failed to spur economic development in the areas surrounding LRT stops. The authors examined areas within one-half mile of LRT platforms and found that “neither construction nor operation of the line appears to affect land use change relative to the time before construction.” And one of the study’s authors told the Star Tribune, “The effects of light rail, at lea...

  • Shining a light on teachers' contract negotiations

    As we’ve written about previously, many public employee contracts are negotiated in private thanks to weak state laws that allow a public employer or a government employee union to unilaterally demand closed-door contract mediation for any reason. This year alone, dozens of Minnesota school districts and local teachers’ unions have negotiated teachers’ contracts out of the view of the media, taxpayers, and the general public. It is the antithesis of open government, and thankfully some legislato...

  • The folly of "buying down" property taxes

    City, county, and township levies are up $67 million this year. School district levies increased by $40 million. And other levies are up $18 million.

  • Mixed messages on broadband

    Minnesota’s new business taxes have been panned by economists, business leaders, taxpayer advocates, and even the governor who signed the taxes into law. However, while the sales tax on warehousing and business equipment repairs have garnered much of the attention, the new “telecom tax” seemed to attract less scrutiny than it deserves. That may be changing.

  • The Real War on Workers

    AFSCME Minnesota Council 5 is one of the state’s largest government employee unions, representing more than 30,000 state, county, and municipal employees, as well as a smaller number of public sector workers. AFSCME is also among the most powerful political forces in Minnesota, providing manpower and money to liberal candidates and causes, and is arguably the face of organized labor in our state. Eliot Seide, long-time executive director of AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, once wrote: "If every worke...

  • Minimum wage hike gets a PR makeover

    State legislative leaders unveiled "The Women’s Economic Security Act" last week. It includes some old retreads from previous sessions, including the minimum wage hike that stalled in 2013. At the close of last year's session, the Minnesota House and Senate passed bills to hike the minimum wage to $9.50 and $7.75 respectively, but the two bills were never reconciled in conference.

  • Law enforcement union defends deputy who crashed 33 times

    How many times does a deputy sheriff need to crash his police cruiser before he gets fired? In Todd County, Minnesota, the answer is apparently 33 times. That’s the takeaway from an unbelievable state arbitration case just settled last month, in which the county defended its decision to fire the deputy "based on his longstanding history of vehicle accidents, mostly due to excessive speed, driving unreasonably in light of conditions, and distracted driving." The deputy in question crash...

  • Harris v. Quinn update

    The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in Harris v. Quinn, a case with huge ramifications for government labor unions and the workers who are forced to subsidize them.

  • Income inequality at the state teachers' union

    State teachers' union Education Minnesota has added its voice to the chorus of labor union decrying income inequality and wage gaps. But Education Minnesota seems less concerned about the wage gap between the union’s legion of high-paid operatives and the public school teachers they represent. In fact, according to a recently filed with the U.S.

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