The Free Press, Mankato, MN

News Ticker


August 3, 2013

State incentives need more transparency

WHY IT MATTERS: Incentives use tax money to lure corporations who may be turned off by other negatives

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has been kicking up a lot of media dust lately, traveling to parts unknown apparently holding meetings to find potential employers for the state.

The dust up has generally been over the governor’s unwillingness to disclose where he is going and who he is talking to, fearing it would hamper negotiations.

News media are interested not only because of what firms might be lured but what deals or incentives are on the table. And there is every right to be curious after about $850 million in incentives were agreed to last session including $455 million for a Mayo Clinic project and $250 milllion for the Mall of America. The legislature also funded, among other things, $30 million into the Minnesota Investment Fund that offers forgivable loans to job creators.

So this looks like an administration that embraces the idea of providing public incentives to private companies pretty readily. And that can be a tad risky.

In a Politics in Minnesota report, a former Federal Reserve Bank executive warned that easy business incentives may be good politics but bad economics. Art Rolnick, former vice president of the Fed in Minneapolis told PIM, “It’s a red flag when a private company comes to you for this kind of money. Either it’s very risky or it’s going to pan out either way and the company wants to see what it can get from the state. This is power politics to the rich.”

Instead, Rolnick advises the state should beef up education funding and working to ensure we have a skilled workforce.

But incentives are the “drug of choice” now and was partly responsible for an Ardent Mills headquarters to locate to Denver and not Minneapolis. Cargill and CHS, both of Minnesota, are joining Nebraska’s ConAgra to combine forces on a mega flour-million business called Ardent Mills. Twin Cities Business reported that one reason for selecting Denver area was government aid: The companies said their plan to locate is “contingent upon final application and approval of state and local incentives.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Spear smile.jpg Spear column: Hoffner case tested first and right rules

    The biggest news stories carry the biggest risk

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SCC leads the way on work ed The importance of higher education has never been more pronounced than with the changes occurring in our economy, especially in manufacturing. Bloomberg News noted that manufacturing accounts for 80 percent of our exports and for every one high-tech

    April 20, 2014

  • Our View: Y helps kids with skatepark Thumbs up to the YMCA and supporters working quickly to open an interim roller sport park. When fire destroyed Chesley Roller Sports Park in February, the Y made the commitment to rebuild it this summer and fall. But the Y also moved to give skateboa

    April 19, 2014

  • Our View: Make course evaluations public There's been a considerable and legitimate debate over the years about whether students at a public university should have access to teacher and course evaluations. Whenever there is a legitimate debate, it's hard to be in favor of less information a

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View: Drawing the line after Ukraine Why it matters: Tensions are ramping up once more as Russia tries to dictate to Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014

  • Our View: Costs key in health care access While more uninsured got coverage, costs must be controlled to sustain programs

    April 16, 2014

  • Our View: Saving lives trumps booking drug users Changes to the drug laws would save lives of those who overdose

    April 15, 2014

  • Pay attention! Distraction a problem A few years ago safety experts focused heavily on the dangers of people talking on cellphones while driving. Some states passed laws prohibiting the use of hand-held phones in cars as a result. Today much attention is on motorists typing on tiny hand

    April 14, 2014

  • DEBATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA When Minnesota lawmakers return from their spring break, one of the issues they may face is medical marijuana. This has been kicked around too many times. We feel it deserves to be pushed from committee and debated on the floor. The issue has been tr

    April 13, 2014

  • Our View: Cities saved on garbage collection Mankato and North Mankato saved their taxpayers money by bidding on garbage service

    April 12, 2014