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Viewpoint: Comparing Wisconsin and Minnesota

Joe Atkins

Dakota County Commissioner Joe Atkins welcomes questions and comments. He can be reached at 651-438-4430 or Joe.Atkins@co.dakota.mn.us.

When the new governor of Wisconsin was sworn in back in 2011, he did not have nice things to say about Minnesota. He suggested people compare the two states. So I did. Starting in 2011 and every year since, I have compared Wisconsin with Minnesota, using only documented figures and rankings, with no spin. Below is this year's data.

Since I am now a Dakota County Commissioner, I have thrown in some data specific to Dakota County, too.

Taxes

For 2017, an average family with a median annual income of $54,286 would pay $7,384 in state and local taxes in Wisconsin. The same family would pay $6,291 — or $1,091 less — in Minnesota for state and local taxes. Source: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-be-a-taxpayer/2416/.

Property taxes

Minnesota residents pay $2,110 in property taxes on a $180,000 home. Wisconsin residents pay $3,499 on the same-priced home. The average household in Dakota County pays $1414 less in property taxes than a family in Wisconsin, and $461 less in property taxes than the Twin Cities metro average. Source: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-be-a-taxpayer/2416/.

Wages

A worker in Wisconsin earns an average annual wage of $43,930. A worker in Minnesota earns an average of 13.2% more, at $49,740. Dakota County residents earn an average annual wage of $51,532. Source: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcst.htm.

Job growth

Wisconsin businesses added 28,900 jobs in 2016. Private-sector jobs grew 42% faster in Minnesota, with businesses adding 41,200 jobs in 2016. Source: https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/323f046b-3e87-477f-9f96-0...

Best state for business

Minnesota ranks as the 4th best state for business. Wisconsin ranks 23rd. Source: www.cnbc.com/2016/07/12/americas-top-states-for-business-2016-the-list-and-ranking.html

Fortune 500 companies

Minnesota is home to 17 Fortune 500 companies. Wisconsin has 10. Minnesota is also home to the world's largest privately-owned company: Cargill. Dakota County serves as headquarters for one Fortune 500 company - CHS in Inver Grove Heights - which is #84 on the list with $34.6 billion in annual revenues. Source: beta.fortune.com/fortune500/list.

State budget

Wisconsin's state government has a $1.7 billion budget deficit. Minnesota's state government has a $1.65 billion surplus.

Debt

The State of Minnesota's debt equals $2,982 per resident, while the State of Wisconsin's debt equals $3,933 per resident. Source: https://ballotpedia.org/State_debt. Dakota County has zero debt, which is unusual in Minnesota and across the country.

Beer consumption

Wisconsinites annually consume 38.2 gallons of beer per person, placing them at #6 in the nation. Minnesotans consume 22% less, at 31.3 gallons of beer per person, which doesn't even crack the top 10. Source: www.beerinfo.com/index.php/pages/beerstateconsumption.html

Gas tax

The gas tax is 15 percent higher in Wisconsin than in Minnesota. At 32.9 cents per gallon, Wisconsin has the 12th highest gas tax in the nation. Minnesota's gas tax is 28.6 cents per gallon, ranking #25 in the country. https://taxfoundation.org/state-gasoline-tax-rates-2016/

Murders

There were 165 murders in Wisconsin in 2016. Minnesota had 88. Source: www.worldatlas.com/articles/murder-capital-of-the-us-states-with-the-most-murders.html

Farm production

With $20.2 billion in farm production, Minnesota ranks #5 nationally. Wisconsin farmers come in at #9, with $12.5 billion in production. Dakota County farmers held their own among Minnesota's yield-leading counties in bushels per acre of oats, corn and soybeans. Sources: https://data.ers.usda.gov/reports.aspx?ID=49642 and https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Minnesota/Publications/Cou...

Social Security

Wisconsin does not tax Social Security income. Minnesota is one of 13 states that still does. The legislature is currently considering a proposal to reduce or eliminate this. www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T051-C000-S001-which-states-tax-social-security.html

Quality of life

Wisconsin ranks 15th. Minnesota is 2nd. Minnesota was narrowly edged out by Hawaii for the top spot. Source: www.cnbc.com/2016/07/12/americas-top-states-for-business-2016-the-list-and-ranking.html 

Cheese

Wisconsin farmers make 2.8 million pounds of cheese annually, earning them the #1 ranking in the nation, while Minnesota ranks #6 with 661,000 of cheese produced. Wisconsin was second only to California in milk production, with Minnesota ranking #9. Notably, MN Milk recently named the Otte Family of Dakota County its Milk Producer of the Year. Sources: www.worldatlas.com/articles/us-cheese-production-top-10-states.html, https://www.statista.com/statistics/194968/top-10-us-states-by-milk-prod... and www.mnmilk.org/news/320727/Minnesota-Milk-Names-Otte-Family-its-Producer-of-the-Year.htm.

Aaron Rodgers

The Packers have one. The Vikings don't.

Life expectancy

Hawaiians rank #1 with an average life expectancy of 81.3 years, with Minnesotans coming in second at 81.1 years and Wisconsinites 11th at an even 80.0 years. In Dakota County, life expectancy is 83.6 years. Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_life_expectancy and https://ww2.kqed.org/futureofyou/2017/01/31/find-life-expectancy-map/

Education

Wisconsin ranks # 11; Minnesota is #2. In states where at least half of all students take the ACT, Minnesota ranks #1. In Dakota County, seven high schools were named to Minnesota's 50 Best High Schools list: Rosemount, Eagan, Simley, South St. Paul, Sibley, Eastview and Apple Valley. Sources: www.cnbc.com/2016/07/12/americas-top-states-for-business-2016-the-list-and-ranking.html and goo.gl/qxgw2D.

While the data and rankings favor Minnesota, I wish our neighbors to the east nothing but the best. Except when their sports teams play ours.

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