President, Growth & Justice
Expertise & Civic Involvements
As a newspaper journalist for 30 years before heading Growth & Justice, Smith covered politics and policy at the local, state and federal levels, writing more than 4,000 bylined articles. Notable contributions include an award-winning Star Tribune series in 1987, “Spending Big,” about the growth of state and local government in Minnesota, and “The Good that Government Does,” a three-part “News With a View’’ series in 1994 that explained the unappreciated value of federal, state and local government to the nation and Minnesota.
Since 2007, his work at Growth & Justice focuses on fair taxation and smart public investment. Smith has held two adjunct teaching positions, one at Inver Hills Community College, and one at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership program. He is former chairman and current member of the Inver Hills Community College Alumni Board. In 2007 and 2008, he served on a citizens advisory panel to revise the state’s discipline policy for judges. Smith also recently served on an Education Finance Working Group to recommend overhaul of state funding formulas. As President of Growth & Justice, he participates in numerous advisory panels and strategic partnerships and advocacy teams. Smith also tutors students in reading at Horace Mann Elementary School in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood, and is active in various organizations which support the St. Paul Public Schools.
"Inseparable Imperatives: Workforce Equity for a Competitive Economy," (with ), Preview and overview of series of "Workforce Equity'' policy briefs showing how Minnesota can reduce racial inequities in job market, Growth & Justice, Spring 2013. This paper, Inspeparable Imperatives, is the first in a series of four designed to help Minnesota policy-makers reduce racial inequality in employment, which poses a threat to the state's long-term competitiveness. Charts and data showing the severity of the unemployment gap in the Twin Cities, workforce demand and racial composition of qualified workers in specific sectors. Spotlight boxes show targets of opportunity, such as the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, and promising new efforts, such as the "M-Powered'' program.
"Beyond the Affordable Care Act: An Economic Analysis of a Unified System of Health Care for Minnesota," (with ), Econometric analysis in partnership with The Lewin Group of costs and benefits of a publicly financed "unified and universal'' health-care system for Minnesota (also known as "single-payer"), Growth & Justice, March, 2012. Minnesota could reduce it's total health-care spending by individuals and businesses by 9 percent (compared to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act) if it established a taxpayer financed universal health-care system with a top-shelf benefit set.
"Whole Towns Coming Together for All Students," Growth & Justice Policy Education Report, January, 2012. Describes progress being made through community engagement initiatives toward improving student success and closing achievement and attainment gaps in an increasingly diverse Greater Minnesota. Highlights some promising specific efforts happening across the state in rural towns and cities outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
"Governing with Accountability," Growth & Justice Policy Report, March, 2009. Provides overview of classic principles that underlie effective and accountable state and local government in Minnesota, and reviews challenges and promising initiatives aimed at redesigning the public sector.
"Smart Investments in Minnesota’s Students," (with ), Growth & Justice Policy Report, October, 2008. Outlines evidence-based strategic investments aimed at dramatically increasing post-secondary graduation in Minnesota, and reducing achievement and attainment gaps.
Professor Wellstone Goes to Washington: The Inside Story of a Grassroots Senate Campaign (with ) (University of Minnesota Press, 2003). Tells the story of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone’s populist progressive campaign in 1990 and his stunning upset victory over incumbent Republican Rudy Boschwitz in 1990.
"Fixing Minnesota's Employment Gap," Sunday OpEd, Star Tribune, June 15, 2013. Commentary describes Minnesota's unacceptable racial gaps in employment, education and many other socio-economic indicators, then outlines specific policies that could boost employment for communities of color. Solutions include higher goals in development agreements for large new projects with public subsidies, apprenticeships and internships, and focusing racial equity efforts on high-growth "clusters,'' such as health-care.
"True Patriotism Means Recognizing Interdependence," Capitol Report/Politics in Minnesota, Capitol Report/Politics in Minnesota, June 27, 2013. Commentary just before Independence Day makes the case that interdependence and equality were just as important as independence and liberty as founding values of the United States of America. Article was Dane Smith's regular column in the Capitol Report newspaper and Politics in Minnesota network, and also was featured in the St. Cloud Times newspaper on June 30.
"Giving Our Public Schools Their Due," Sunday Op-Ex, Star Tribune, December 9, 2012. Commentary dispels notions that Minnesota public schools are failing. Makes case with up-to-date long-term data and megatrends that public schools actually are performing heroically. Charts with article show steep increase in poor and costlier tudents and significant reduction in school funding as a percent of personal income, while test scores over 15 years have actually slightly increased. Article built a case for what turned out to be a historic restoration of education funding in the 2013 legislative session.
"Research: Higher-ed Improvements Would Help Minnesota More than Most States," Commentary, Capitol Report/Politics in Minnesota, August 23, 2012. Summary and positive review of report by National Center for Higher Education Management Systems , showing how some states benefit more than others from post-secondary completion.
"Humphrey's Happy Fight for Racial Equity and Harmony," Commentary, Capitol Report/Politics in Minnesota, August 9, 2012. Op-ed reviews Hubert H. Humphrey's enormous contributions to national progress on civil rights, on the occasion of President Clinton's arrival n Minnesota to dedicate state Capitol statue memorializing Humphrey.
"Twins Saga Holds Lesson for Minnesota" (with ), Commentary, Capitol Report/Politics in Minnesota, July 26, 2012. Article makes case that neglecting the farm system, or failing to develop human potential and human capital in young minority populations, can be bad for a major league baseball team, or an entire state.
"You're Entitled: That's the American Way," Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities, May 6, 2012. Commentary making strong case for rehabilitating the concept of universal economic entitlement as an American ideal.
- "Why the Iron Lady Did Not Dismantle Britain’s Universal Health Care System," Capitol Report, March 22, 2012.
- "Rethinking the New York Times Visit to Chisago County," Capitol Report, March 8, 2012.
- "On Higher Ed, Stick to the Plan" (with ), Star Tribune, December 14, 2011.
- "Dane Smith: The Founding Federalists," Star Tribune, July 2, 2011.
- "Who’s Getting Too Good a Deal? Hint: It’s Not the Bottom 99 Percent of Us?," MinnPost, March 3, 2011.
Talks and Briefings
- "The Color of Our Labor," Unity Unitarian Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, September 2, 2012. In his annual Labor Day Sunday sermon at Unity Church, Dane Smith traces history of racial exploitation of labor, remarkable progress toward equity, current trends and demographics and the moral and economic obligation to drive toward further closing gaps in education and employment.
- "Debate: Regulating Capitalism: Moral Necessity or Moral Treason?," (with Yaron Brook, President of Ayn Rand Institute), Debate, September 27, 2011.
- "And How are the Children," Tedx1000Lakes Lecture on examples of civic engagement for student success in rural Minnesota, September 23, 2011.