FFM Bulletin 10/6/11

Minnesota’s largest employer? Minnesota (taxpayers)

With over 40,000 employees, the state’s largest employer is, well, the state itself. According to a recent ranking completed by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal on the state’s 50 largest employers, the State of Minnesota took the top spot, sadly followed by the federal government with 34,000 employees.

The first private employer on the list is the Mayo Clinic in third with 33,000.  To round out the top ten: the University of Minnesota has 19,000 employees and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has 18,000, good for 9th and 10th place respectively.

That means four of the state’s top 10 employers are government, including the top two largest employers.  As our friends at the Anoka County Watchdog said last week: “And we wonder what went wrong with our economy.”

The Anoka County Watchdog offered superb analysis on what this means for Minnesotans:

“Government employees are paid with public dollars that have already been stripped from the private economy and laundered through the public economy. The taxes they pay are not new dollars and thus are not new wealth. It’s just re-circulated money that was already in the economy. There's no net benefit to our collective prosperity.”

You can find the full piece on the Anoka County Watchdog website.

In addition, here’s a short, four-minute video that does a terrific job describing the explosion of public sector employees.

St. Cloud was against it before they were for it

After failing to pass a citywide “Complete Streets” policy at their September 12 meeting, the St. Cloud City Council will revisit the issue at a later meeting, according to the St. Cloud Times.  The National Complete Streets Coalition says that by adopting “Complete Streets” policy, “communities direct their transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users,” meaning walkers, bikers and other alternative forms of transportation.

Yet these policies in the name of pedestrian and biker safety may have a significant impact on taxpayers, especially taking into account the costly redesign of existing streets and construction of future streets. The council will consider design standards, regulations, and anticipated costs of the policy before taking their final vote.

This story was first highlighted in our “Local Government Accountability Roundup” section on our website. Continue to check back for other interesting and timely stories from around the state.

MN State News: Ramsey County taxpayers take a stand against tax increases for Vikings stadium

Proponents and opponents of a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills gathered at the first of two public hearings on September 28 sponsored by the Ramsey County Charter Commission, with the majority of the attendees supporting an opportunity to vote on the proposal and any tax increases.

The next public hearing will be October 11 at the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul at 6:30 p.m. The commission could make a decision on a public vote anytime after the meeting.

FFM in the news

The Rochester Post Bulletin took note of our e-update last week that criticized the Rochester to Twin Cities rail line that puts taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars. From Postbulletin.com:

A conservative think tank is targeting Olmsted County's Zip Rail proposal calling it a "future boondoggle." The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota went after the project in its weekly bulletin…

Read the rest of the article here.
FFM CEO Annette Meeks made an appearance on KSTP’s At Issue over the weekend, supporting a referendum for Ramsey County’s stadium tax increase and criticizing President Obama’s jobs proposal.  The entire Oct. 2 episode of At Issue can be found on KSTP.com.
Last week, Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) officially suspended CenterPoint Energy’s controversial tiered-rate pricing system pilot program that launched in July 2010.  We at FFM exposed these developments last spring when thousands of CenterPoint customers complained of substantial increases in their energy bills. Yet, several influential environmental groups have their eye on revamping and re-launching the program. Be sure to keep up with FFM for future developments.


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