Back in 2015, President Barack Obama compared Minnesota favorably with Wisconsin, holding up our state's high, progressive taxes as the model for others to follow.

When I joined the Center of the American Experiment think tank in 2017, we were skeptical of this. The previous year, we had produced a report showing that Minnesota was losing residents to, and failing to attract them from, other states. Our annual report on Minnesota's economy in 2017 called its performance "lackluster," noting below average GDP growth.

These weren't popular arguments at that time.

Our concerns are now much more widely shared. In March, Steve Grove, commissioner of Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development, tweeted in celebration of our state being ranked the second-best to live in by U.S. News: He was roasted by progressives highlighting Minnesota's racial disparities and forced to issue a groveling clarification.

In May, the Star Tribune Editorial Board embraced a report from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce that highlighted, among other things, our state's below average GDP growth and "lack of in-migration from other states." Sound familiar?

And a recent poll for our magazine, Thinking Minnesota, found that while 45% of Minnesotans think our state is on the right track, 48% of us now believe it is on the wrong track: this is up from 38% in March 2019 and 26% in March 2018.

A new consensus is emerging as progressives join conservatives in perceiving that all is not well in the state of Minnesota.

Consider those racial disparities. Prof. Samuel L. Myers Jr., of the University of Minnesota, recently listed disparities in graduation rates, homeownership rates, loan denial rates, mortality rates, suspension rates, wage and salary incomes, unemployment rates, child abuse and neglect report rates, traffic stops, even drowning rates. Prof. Myers noted, "The coexistence in Minnesota of wealth and plenty for the majority group with wide racial gaps faced by minority groups has come to be known as the Minnesota Paradox."

Even worse, for Black Minnesotans some of these outcomes, like homeownership rates, are not just low relative to those for white Minnesotans but relative to those for Black residents of other states. My colleague Catrin Wigfall noted recently that Black and Hispanic students in Mississippi outperformed Minnesota's Black and Hispanic students in both math and reading and that test scores for Mississippi's Black students have been rising in recent years, compared with declining scores for our state's Black students.

And these disparities coexist with Minnesota's high, progressive taxes. Minnesota has had some of the highest tax rates and one of the most progressive income tax systems in the U.S. for decades. Our state's tax system ranked among the top five in 2018.

The data show that whatever problems you think afflict our state at present — from racial disparities to surging violent crime — they have either arisen while Minnesota has had high, progressive taxes or they have proved resilient to remedy by high, progressive taxes. It is time to try something different. But what?

Look again at those education disparities. Last year, Brightbeam, a nonprofit education advocacy organization, released a report which found that some cities are doing a much better job at closing the gaps in education outcomes than others. But, as Nekima Levy Armstrong wrote on these pages, "The Brightbeam report shows that progressive cities like Minneapolis do worse — and, surprisingly, conservative cities do better — when it comes to educating students of color. According to the report, conservative cities have gaps in math and reading that are on average 15 and 13 percentage points smaller than those in progressive cities."

This is not because conservative cities have higher and more progressive taxes than progressive ones. Something besides taxing and spending is closing those gaps. Rather than repeating or amplifying what has failed over decades in Minnesota, we should look to the places which are succeeding and learn from them.

This message was a hard sell four years ago. But with the emergence of a new, more skeptical consensus across Minnesota's political spectrum, its time might have come.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment (