Thursday, November 28, 2013

Liberal Vs. Conservative Governor: Whose State Fares Better?

Lawrence R. Jacobs, professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, compares the records of two governors: liberal Democrat Mark Dayton (left) of Minnesota and conservative Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin (right). Walker attacked unions and slashed taxes and spending, while Dayton raised taxes, particularly on the affluent, and increased state services. Jacobs finds that liberal policies trump conservative ones in terms of jobs, economic growth, education and health care:

Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth...

Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business...

...The lion’s share of Minnesota’s new tax revenue was sunk into human capital. While the state’s Constitution required that half of the new revenue balance the budget in 2013, Mr. Dayton invested 71 percent of the remaining funds in K-12 schools and higher education as well as a pair of firsts: all-day kindergarten and wider access to early childhood education. Minnesota was one of the few states that raised education spending under the cloud of the Great Recession.

By contrast, Mr. Walker’s strategy limited Wisconsin’s ability to invest in infrastructure that would have catalyzed private-sector expansion, and he cut state funding of K-12 schools by more than 15 percent. Per student, this was the seventh sharpest decline in the country.

Health care presents another difference. When Mr. Walker refused to establish a state health insurance exchange or to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government covered all costs for three years and most costs after that, ideology trumped pragmatism. The uninsured and the ill bear the burden. Many of the 10 percent of uninsured Wisconsinites were denied new Medicaid benefits and were shunted off to the federal exchange’s stumbling website.

Mr. Dayton is on course to improve Minnesota’s already low uninsured rate. He expanded Medicaid to cover an additional 35,000 people and accepted Washington’s offer to pick up the cost — as half the states, including a growing number with Republican governors, have. Mr. Dayton also created a state insurance exchange, which enrolled more than 90 percent of its first month’s target. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s tradition of innovative medical care and nonprofit insurers produced premiums in its insurance exchange that are, on average, the lowest in the country, well below premiums in Wisconsin.


Michael J. Mand said...

I read this article. Rather telling, isn't it? Telling, but not surprising when you think beyond the bumper sticker slogans employed to support many conservative positions.

Jeff Tone said...

Quite telling regarding the negative effects of conservative policies upon the citizens.