OPINION | Taking the public out of a public park

Sharing public amenities is only slightly less controversial than funding public amenities. The new Vikings stadium adjoins an equally new Minneapolis public park. The Minnesota Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission retain exclusive use for 80-100 days per year. The park represents a new economic development direction that presents itself as one thing, a park, while behaving as another, an athletic performance venue.

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Increasing retirement savings must start now

Minnesotans save, maybe, a hair more money for retirement than other Americans. But, like every other American, Minnesotans aren’t remotely saving enough to provide for their secure post-work, retirement life. Savings correlate with household income; the more money you earn, the greater the likelihood of adequate retirement savings. Since 72% of Minnesota households earn less than $100,000 annually, retirement savings for most people aren’t coming remotely close enough to meet the projected need. Continue Reading

OPINION | Helping families improves schools

The one-room country school predates health insurance, medical clinics, food shelves, family planning services, after-school enrichment programs and community education. Yet, the one-room country school house defined wrap-around educational services well before anyone conceived the term “wrap around services.” There’s a lesson to be learned here.

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OPINION | Fear, loathing, distraction in Minneapolis

The dark arts of public policy distraction are alive and well in Minneapolis. When Minneapolis residents should be evaluating mayoral candidates’ policy and leadership proposals relative to mayoral authority and responsibility, the conservative education reform movement is distracting citizens and candidates from discussing the city’s real challenges. The distraction is a double whammy. Not only is ed reform poor school policy but Minneapolis city issues are real, pressing and richly deserve debate.

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OPINION | MNsure operators standing by!

On Tuesday, September 3, the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange’s telephone help desk went live. Next month, MNsure, Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace, launches. And, in the eternal struggle between the informed health insurance providers and considerably less informed health insurance consumers, consumers gain ground.

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OPINION | Immigration reform’s Minnesota impact

Immigrants are important to Minnesota. Rural or urban, north or south, first ring suburbs or newest exurb, immigrants are an essential part of Minnesota’s economic and cultural fabric. A recent study, Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform in Minnesota, from the Center for American Progress and the American Federation of State County and Municipal workers examines the economic impact of the national immigration reform act in Minnesota. $4.8 billion is nothing to sneeze at.

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OPINION | When the music stops: Cuts to music instruction feed general decline in Minnesota education

Music is taking a beating. Fewer financial resources flow to school music programs. The Minnesota Orchestra musicians remain locked-out. Record sales are horrible. While these three distinct situations shouldn’t be confused, music is inseparable from public policy because music is inseparable from human existence. But, as a public policy matter, the question boils down to funding. Continue Reading

OPINION | K-12’s funding renaissance

Knowledge is power. Knowledge is also a job path to prosperity and stability. Prosperity and stability flow from the purposeful application of knowledge to public and personal circumstance. The sooner we realize that expanding knowledge builds a better, growing Minnesota, the sooner we’ll get there.

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OPINION | Too much school? Making the best of underutilized school buildings

Walnut Grove, Minnesota, my hometown, has more school than it needs. Not more education, it’s doing just fine in that aspect, but it has more school space than the education mission requires. Walnut Grove isn’t unique. As rural Minnesota’s population ages and contracts, nearly every rural school district finds itself in a similar situation with aging, under-used, and increasingly empty school buildings.

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