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An Economist’s View: Dayton’s rich-vs.-the-rest economic view is simply wrong

This op-ed appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune on June 13, 2017. Embattled Gov. Mark Dayton has been on the road lately. On May 30, after a marathon legislative session that went into overtime, he finally signed off on a state budget for the next two years. Then, suddenly, he yanked funding from the Legislature, saying he would reinstate it only if legislators agreed to renegotiate the deal they had just reached with him. After such shoddy maneuvering, you can't blame him for high-tailing it out of town. As reported in the News Tribune, Gov. Dayton told Duluth media that the Republican majority...

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The Educational Value of Beautiful and Physically Demanding Things

What follows is propelled by Center of the American Experiment’s multi-year project “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree: Good News for Students, Parents, and Employers.” As a rule, I stay miles away from proposing that high schools expand their curricula to address assorted lists of societal problems.  I’ve been in meetings, for instance, when participants have said it’s essential that students take a required course regarding the personal and societal benefits of marriage.  An avid proponent of marriage as I may be, I’ve argued against these suggestions on two grounds: Such additions would further clutter what frequently are overstuffed curricula already. ...

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My Quick Conservative Take on the Minneapolis Mayoral Candidates Debate

I attended the Minneapolis mayoral candidates debate today at the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota.  The best part was the excellent questions asked by the moderators, Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey School and Lee Schafer, business columnist for the Star Tribune.  Their common-sense questions called the candidates to account for all the anti-business craziness that’s been coming out of City Hall in recent years.  Here’s what they asked: Are you seeking the support of business owners? What do you say to business owners who say that their complaints about hostility in city government toward the business community has fallen on...

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Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Here’s the lament we hear constantly from employers in Greater Minnesota: “We can’t find a skilled workforce—or grow as a community—because our kids can’t wait to leave town as soon as they finish high school.” One Minnesota high school—Wright Technical Center in Buffalo—is tackling this challenge head-on. Wright Tech is a consortium of eight school districts in Wright and Sherburne Counties, including Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose, Monticello, Delano, Maple Lake, Annandale, Big Lake, St. Michael-Albertville, and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted. In 2015, Wright Tech launched a program called Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) using a model conceived by Illinois entrepreneur and educator Craig Lindvahl. Students in the program...

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An Impressive “Hand’s On, In-the-Seat” Program in Staples

Staples is 30 miles west of Brainerd in Minnesota Lake Country, hence the name Central Lakes College, with campuses in both cities. I spent an exceptionally profitable couple of hours at Staples’ two campuses last week when I was in town to speak about American Experiment’s new multi-year project “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” at a dinner meeting sponsored by a group called “Crossroads Conservatives” at a restaurant and bar called “Twisted Sisters” (really).  In truth, the room didn’t seem terribly twisted at all and the crowd of approximately 35-40 men and women, plus a few high school students, wasn’t...

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Great Jobs and Inclusive Growth

My apologies in advance if what I write below about a recent conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis seems circular.  This is not a slam at the two-day meeting on “Opportunity and Inclusive Growth,” but rather pertains to the many inescapable connections among matters of education, families, jobs, income, wealth and other facts and conditions of local and national life.  Connections, for example, that are implicit in Center of the American Experiment’s major, multi-year initiative, “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree:  Good News for Students, Parents, and Employers.” One of the speakers at the conference, held May 22-23,...

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Governor Dayton’s Attempt to De-Fund the GOP Legislature: Troubling Tactics, Apocalyptic Prose and Fake Federalism

The governor of Minnesota has attempted to de-fund the state legislature, an equal branch of the government. Like a critical parent, Dayton dressed down GOP leaders in a dramatic letter, punctuated with emotional, apocalyptic language. ...

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