Columnist: Wisconsinites eating ‘Gopher dust’

We’re always in the market for a good Wisconsin v. Minnesota argument but where the economy is concerned, we’re running into a reality: it’s no contest between the two states.

Just ask Dave Zweifel, the former editor of The Capital Times in Madison, whose column today notes that Wisconsinites are eating Gopher dust.

The two states were once “molded by strong civic-minded Scandinavian and German immigrants and governed by a long line of progressive leaders, both Democrats and Republicans,” he writes.

But that was way back then.

Wisconsin state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, a Democrat from Alma, a little city across the Mississippi from Minnesota, released a side-by-side comparison of the two states last week. It included tidbits like Minnesota’s average wage of $50,711 to Wisconsin’s $44,471 or the state debt averaging $2,513 per person in Minnesota compared to $4,044 in Wisconsin.

Minnesota’s state domestic production has now reached $315.2 billion to Wisconsin’s $292.8 billion. Science professionals in the Gopher State average $68,530 in salary to $58,710 in the Badger State and more than 34 percent of all people over 25 have college degrees in Minnesota compared to 28.4 percent here. And while the number of new businesses created per year averages roughly 6,000 in Wisconsin, Minnesota has been averaging 8,000.

It’s clear the two states are on different paths. We lowered taxes on the wealthy, Minnesota increased them. We significantly reduced state aid to public education, Minnesota increased it. We have a budget surplus of less than $100 million in 2015, Minnesota has a surplus of nearly $2 billion.

Wisconsin, once a guiding light among the states, has become one of the country’s laggards, he says.