Earlier today I posted about some billboards the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce is running poking fun at Minnesota’s taxes, which are significantly higher than North Dakota’s. The point is to illustrate that North Dakota is a much healthier business environment than Minnesota.
But the folks in Minnesota, a member of the Moorhead City Council to be exact (Moorhead is just across the border from Fargo), aren’t happy about it:
Moorhead City Council member Mark Hintermeyer said Friday he considers the message unproductive and confrontational, and wants the sign taken down immediately. He said it could make local and state officials less interested in backing a proposed Red River diversion project that would move water around Fargo and Moorhead in times of serious flooding.
“It’s very unfortunate that the city of Fargo, which needs our cooperation for a diversion project, would want to poke us in the eye,” Hintermeyer said. “I have had a conversation with two other council members and they are just as upset as I am.”
North Dakota Chamber President Andy Peterson said in an interview that in addition to promoting the state’s booming economy, one of the campaign’s objectives is to help Minnesota improve its business environment.
Peterson noted that a competitive states’ index lists North Dakota 15th for a favorable business climate and Minnesota is 40th.
“That doesn’t play well for our regional economy,” Peterson said. “We’re hoping that Minnesotans take notice of this that the government in Minnesota is taking more of their money and they will probably have less to spend.”
Hintermeyer is not buying that approach.
“There are policy considerations at the state level in St. Paul. This is not that way to get that message across,” Hintermeyer said. “I don’t see how this advances any goal here. I don’t know why they would want to pick a fight.”
Craig Whitney of the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce also has butt-hurt over the billboards.
I’m a little astounded that anyone in Minnesota would be upset by the billboards. After all, it’s no big secret that North Dakota has a far more attractive tax climate than Minnesota, and one need only look at our border communities to see the proof of it.
These communities have far more population on the North Dakota side of the border. Because North Dakota has a big, big tax advantage over Minnesota:
The beauty of America’s federalist system of government is that it is an inherently competitive system. The states compete, in terms of policy, to attract the most commerce, people and thus prosperity. Now, far too often the competition consists of who can offer the best package of subsidies and special considerations, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with pointing that people who live and work in North Dakota carry a much lighter tax burden than Minnesota.
The folks in Minnesota who are upset about that ought to look to their state representatives, instead of grousing at North Dakotans.