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Framing the Issues

The following sections detail ways for candidates and citizens to talk about smart public investments and tax fairness.

Investing where it matters most pays off

Simple math: High-school dropouts, bad roads and people without health care are costing us all billions. Research shows states doing better long-term if they invest tax dollars in education, transportation infrastructure and healthy communities. These public assets support sustained growth, self-sufficiency and prosperity for businesses and all citizens, but the private sector typically does not invest enough in them. If government does not make the investments, workers and employers will pay the price.

These principles are important to stress when talking about how to invest where it matters most:

Investing in what works

Especially in times of scarcity, government must make tough choices about where to spend. Failing programs are easy to cut, but if new approaches are required, how should policymakers choose where to redirect funds?

Emphasize that these investment principles should be applied in a smart public investment strategy:

Investing cost effectively for results

Taxpayers resist the idea of investing if they perceive it means simply paying more for the status quo. But voters want governments to work, and a reasonable case that their money will improve things is persuasive. Articulating costs and benefits can overcome empty rhetoric abut wasteful and ineffective government.

Growth & Justice encourages consideration of policy options through an economic lens that focuses on getting the best returns for the public dollar:

Raising tax money fairly and sufficiently

People disagree about whether tax fairness means progressive (larger percentage for higher incomes) or proportionate (same percentage for all). But Minnesota’s overall state-local tax system now is neither. It is regressive; with those on the top paying a significantly smaller percentage than everyone else. In fact, the top earners have a larger share of income and wealth than they have had since the Great Depression.

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