[Updated] A recent piece in The American Prospect about why Minnesota's economy is out-performing Wisconsin's is a must-read for Wisconsin politicos and media working to cut through Scott Walker's bogus claim that Wisconsin is now a model for national replication:
Minnesota and Wisconsin offer something close to a laboratory experiment in competing economic policies. Since the 2010 elections of Democratic Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota and Republican Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, these neighboring states with similar populations and economies have pursued radically different strategies. Dayton embraces good government, progressive taxation, and high-wage policies, while Walker has chosen shrunken government, fiscal austerity, and a war on labor.
More than four years later, the two states’ achievements in population growth, jobs, pay, and quality of life offer a clear contrast. (See "The Politics of Offense and Defense," by Sam Ross-Brown, part of this package from The American Prospect magazine's 25th Anniversary issue.) Minnesota’s economy has outpaced Wisconsin’s.
These results suggest that Walker, in his expected run for president, may have difficulty promoting a “Wisconsin Miracle” as a model for national policy. This story also offers a cautionary tale to newly elected conservative governors like Bruce Rauner in nearby Illinois: An attack on government and workers’ wages is not a prescription either for prosperity or for political success.
While the “experiment” is not perfect—there are minor differences in urban and industrial structure between the two states—it is clear that imposing fiscal austerity and undermining residents’ standards of living are not successful prescriptions for economic prosperity. As the presidential election ramps up, the hard economics of these two states offer us evidence on the choice between markedly different futures.