Minnesota’s Economic News — W/E 5/20/22
State and local taxes and spending KEYC: Agency error means richest Minnesotans owe more in taxes Star Tribune: State error means wealthy Minnesotans owe more taxes KELO: Minnesota’s costly mistake…
I have noted with growing alarm over the last several years as Minnesota winds up to put state and local government in charge of providing, or enabling, so-called “affordable housing” and to address a “housing shortage.”
There are various task forces around the state, and during Governor Dayton’s final months in office his Task Force on Housing released 30 recommendations last week. Yes, the task force has all the usual suspects and support for the idea of government intervention from the Editorial Board at the Strib.
Do you remember when President Reagan used to say the scariest sentence in the English language was, “I am from the government, and I am here to help you?”
Well, for a good scare, read what the task force says about why it exists:
Why is a Task Force on Housing needed in 2018?
Inequitable and unfair access to safe, quality, stable housing is a person-centered problem, and we need people from a broad range of communities with diverse perspectives and a wide range of expertise to create solutions. We know that what has worked in the past is important but insufficient to meet the demands, needs and challenges of our changing communities. The goal of the Governor’s Task Force on Housing is to support what is working, gain a broader understanding of what success looks like for people across the state, identify gaps in the system, and develop innovative solutions to ensure that families, individuals, and communities have the foundation for success that they need.
Note how Governor Dayton’s folks lead with “inequitable and unfair.” Sigh.
I am not sure whether there is a shortage of housing; if you are poor finding an apartment or house can sometimes be a challenge. And I know that towns with employers who ramp up have had issues especially if the pay is low (like meat processing or other Big Ag). Employers would love to shift (or share) the cost of workforce housing to taxpayers; that has already happened in Minnesota.
I am sure of one thing: there is no “crisis” in our state. Government regulations and interventions into what is overall a very healthy private marketplace, will drive up the cost of housing for everyone.
Think of what government intervention on behalf of the poor has done to health care costs for every American. And what Obamacare has done to our state and local budgets. These well-meaning folks want to do for housing what they have done for health care. Can I hear a “No, thank you!”
So before our legislature or local governments try anything new, or tap more taxpayers dollars, to address what they have proclaimed a shortage or a crisis, they should first analyze how state and local regulations drive the costs of building and maintaining rental and other housing, especially for people who are cost sensitive: students, young people just getting a start and for low-income residents, including the elderly who are in fixed incomes. (Minnesotans who are stuck in welfare dependency are a different matter because of federal programs.)
Here is what the task force says it wants to address—do you think government can take this on?
The good news is my colleague Isaac Orr has agreed to take on this policy area for the Center; watch for his take on the Task Force recommendations, and better ideas on how Minnesota can keep our housing market healthy and affordable for all Minnesotans.