For the next several weeks these posts will be written by Rick Haglund. Rick authored our latest report: State Policies Matter: How Minnesota’s Tax, Spending and Social Policies Help it Achieve the Best Economy Among Great Lakes States. His posts will highlight the lessons he learned in his investigation of Minnesota’a approach to growing its economy. By far, the most successful in the Great Lakes.
The report is a major departure for Michigan Future. To date our research has focused almost exclusively around economic and demographic data. This report is about state policy. We are moving into policy research largely in response to questions we get from those who read our reports and/or hear presentations on that work. The most frequent question we get is: “What are the most prosperous states and regions doing different than us?”. Rather than developing a policy agenda, we have chosen to approach policy through case studies of economic growth-related policies in the most prosperous states and regions.
We asked Rick to do this initial case study for us. For decades he has been one of, if not, the best journalist covering the Michigan economy. He brings to this assignment a deep understanding of how state economies work and the role policy plays in shaping the economy.
We asked Rick, of course, to investigate the tax and spending policies of Minnesota compared to Michigan. These are the policy levers widely considered to influence state economic outcomes the most. Tax and spending policies are the main focus of the report. We also asked Rick to tackle two additional topics. Regionalism in metro Minneapolis and being welcoming to all. The difference in economic outcomes between Minnesota and Michigan can largely be explained by the superior performance of metro Minneapolis compared to metro Detroit and metro Grand Rapids. For years, Minneapolis’ approach to regionalism— particularly tax base sharing—has been viewed as a major ingredient in that region’s economic success. Michigan Future has identified being welcoming to all as a core component of prosperous states and regions. So we asked Rick to also investigate Minnesota’s approach to being welcoming.
We are excited about the report Rick has produced. Our hope is that it will expand the conversation in Michigan and its regions about what economic policy should be to return Michigan to prosperity in an economy being transformed by globalization and technology. Minnesota has taken a different path to prosperity. At the very least, we hope Michiganders are open to exploring whether that path might work for us as well.