from the Democratic National Committee rec'd Feb. 11, 2011

Bizzaro World: Tim Pawlenty's Speech at CPAC

While President Obama has been busy working to win the future by out-educating, out-building and out-innovating the rest of the world, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference today that came straight out of Bizzaro World: touting his fiscal record in Minnesota while  omitting the fact that he left the state with a $6.2 billion deficit and hundreds of millions in new taxes; bragging about Minnesota’s 2005 government shutdown while failing to mention it was the result of his “holding out for a tax increase;” touting Minnesota’s health care reform experiments while exaggerating its effects (Minnesota Public Radio found that it’s a “stretch” to say they’ve “had much of an effect on costs.”) In addition to distorting his own record, Pawlenty is also distorting his past positions – claiming to have opposed TARP when he clearly supported and defended it back in 2008.
RHETORIC:We can’t spend more than we take in. You can't do it as an individual. You can't do it as a family. You can't do it as a business. And we can’t let our government do it anymore. The big spenders in Washington D.C. have us on a course of trillion dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see.”
Minnesota Faces A $6.2 Billion Deficit In The Upcoming 2012-2013 Biennium. “Minnesota is facing a $6.2 billion deficit in the upcoming biennium, up from earlier projections of $5.8 billion. The shortfall represents about 16 percent of the state's two-year budget.” [Minnesota Public Radio, 12/2/10]
·         Star Tribune’s Lori Sturdevant: Pawlenty Is The First Governor In Minnesota’s History To Hand His Successor A $6.2 Billion Deficit Forecast. “No other governor in Minnesota's 152-year history has handed his successor a $6.2 billion deficit forecast along with the keys to the Capitol's executive suite. But if Pawlenty has any remorse or regrets about passing that much trouble along to the next occupant, he didn't display them.” [Lori Sturdevant op-ed, Star Tribune, 12/4/10]
Pawlenty Was Criticized By Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton For Leaving Him A “Horrendous Fiscal Mess” And Poorly Managed State Agencies. “Gov. Mark Dayton is delivering a harsh assessment of Minnesota's economy under his predecessor, Republican Tim Pawlenty. Dayton says he inherited a ‘horrendous fiscal mess’ and poorly managed state agencies, according to the prepared text of his first State of the State speech on Wednesday… Dayton also notes that the state had 77,000 more unemployed residents just before he took office last month than it did before Pawlenty came in eight years ago. The new governor says fewer people working were even though Minnesota's population grew. Dayton says the stagnation followed income tax cuts enacted when the Independence Party's Jesse Ventura was governor and Pawlenty was in the Legislature.” [Associated Press, 2/9/11]
·         Key Headline: “Gov. Dayton Harshly Criticizes Pawlenty's Economy.” [Associated Press, 2/9/11]

RHETORIC:  “…we cut government in Minnesota.  If we can do it there, we can do it anywhere. The naysayers say ‘we can’t cut spending; we can’t prioritize; we have to raise taxes.’ I drew a line in the sand and said, ‘Absolutely not. We're going to live within our means just like families, just like businesses, just like everybody else.’”
Pawlenty “Wrestled With Budget Problems Since He First Took Office” Partly “Due To The Failure To Enact Permanent Spending Cuts Or Tax Increases That Would Have Balanced The Budget Over The Long-Term” Which Resulted In A “Budget Roller Coaster That Went Mostly Downhill Over The Past Eight Years.” “Pawlenty has wrestled with budget problems since he first took office. It's partly due to a sputtering economy, but it's also due to the failure to enact permanent spending cuts or tax increases that would have balanced the budget over the long-term. That failure meant a budget roller coaster that went mostly downhill over the past eight years. Pawlenty and the Legislature would see a surplus in 2006, when the governor said, ‘We've completed the biggest financial turnaround in Minnesota history.’ But just two years later, the state faced a growing deficit. Pawlenty's main governing principle was not to raise state taxes. With the exception of a fee on cigarettes of 75 cent per pack that he pushed in 2005, Pawlenty did not call for higher taxes during his eight years in office.” [Minnesota Public Radio, 12/22/10]

St. Paul Pioneer Press Editorial: Minnesota’s Fiscal Health During Pawlenty’s Tenure Was “Like A Continuing Drama Of Plugging One Hole Just In Time To Confront Another.” “The tenure of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, which began in 2003 and ends in January, seems like a continuing drama of plugging one hole just in time to confront another. And that’s where we are today. Pawlenty, a Republican, and the Legislature, controlled by large Democratic-Farmer-Labor majorities, face the immediate problem of a $1.2 billion deficit in the current two-year budget cycle, which runs through mid-2011. They also look ahead to an equally daunting projected deficit in the next two-year budget period. Currently pegged at $5.4 billion for the period from July 2011 to June 2013, that number could decrease or increase based on changes in the economy and on decisions made at the Capitol this year.” [Editorial, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 2/16/10]
2003: Under Pawlenty, Minnesota Lost Its Perfect Bond Rating For The First Time Since 1997. “Minnesota dropped from the elite class of states with perfect credit ratings Monday when it was downgraded by one of three Wall Street bond houses, a change that will increase the cost of borrowing money. Moody’s Investors Service moved the state from Aaa to Aa1. Last week, the other major rating agencies - Standard & Poors and Fitch Ratings - upheld Minnesota’s triple-A rating. Minnesota had held the best rating from the three bond houses since 1997; Moody’s gave the state a triple-A rating in 1996. Analysts there were concerned about the deficit-erasing approach Minnesota lawmakers took this year and the state’s budget outlook.” [Associated Press, 6/16/03]
·         2010: Moody’s Shifted Its Outlook On Minnesota’s Credit Rating To Negative “Due To Ongoing Fiscal Weakness And Heavy Reliance On One-Shots To Balance Its Books.” “As the Minnesota Senate moved yesterday to advance a $1 billion capital budget, Moody’s Investors Service sent a credit warning by shifting its outlook on the state’s Aa1 rating to negative due to ongoing fiscal weakness and heavy reliance on one-shots to balance its books. Moody’s affirmed the state’s Aa1 general obligation rating on $4.2 billion of outstanding debt. The credit revision to negative from stable comes as lawmakers return to work to face a $1.2 billion deficit in the current two-year, $57 billion budget that runs through June 30, 2011. The state’s last forecast, released in early December, revised revenue downward, opening a new budget hole, and warned of a $5.4 billion deficit in the next biennial cycle. A new forecast is expected early next month with those figures setting the stage for legislative action. The state is especially vulnerable to ongoing fiscal weakness due to its depletion of reserves and reliance one-time measures like bill payment delays, fund transfers, and federal stimulus funds to erase $4.6 billion of red ink going into the current budget cycle, straining the state’s liquidity and limiting its options. ‘Minnesota’s vulnerability to further downward revenue revisions given the uncertainty surrounding the timing and the strength of the economic recovery is increased by the drop-off in federal fiscal stimulus monies scheduled for December 2010 which, as in other states, has been used substantially to prop up the state’s budget,’ Moody’s wrote. ‘These factors will pose significant challenges as the state tries to stabilize its finances.’” [The Bond Buyer, 2/10/10]
“During Pawlenty’s Tenure…State And Local Tax Rates Have Increased For 90 Percent Of Minnesotans.” “During Pawlenty’s tenure, property taxes have increased by $3 billion, or 65 percent. Fees have doubled, reaching a total of $1.25 billion. State and local tax rates have increased for 90 percent of Minnesotans, while tax rates for the state’s wealthiest, those earning more than $130,000, have decreased.” [, 2/15/10]
Cato Institute: Despite Pawlenty’s Campaign Pledge Not To Raise Taxes, Pawlenty “Backed A $200 Million Tax Increase On Cigarette Consumers In 2005 And A $109 Million Corporate Tax Increase In 2008.” In October 2008, Chris Smith, the director of tax policy studies for the Cato Institute, penned a “fiscal policy report card on America’s Governors,” in which he gave Pawlenty a “B.” According to the report, “Tim Pawlenty pledged not to raise taxes when he ran for governor, but his tax record in office is more mixed than that. He backed a $200 million tax increase on cigarette consumers in 2005 and a $109 million corporate tax increase in 2008. He has also supported substantial increases in fees and charges. Pawlenty has provided some targeted tax relief and imposed temporary limits on local property tax increases, but he has not focused on pro-growth tax rate reductions.” [Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors, The Cato Institute, 10/20/08]
August 2002, Pawlenty: “You Can’t Run Around The State And Say I’m Not Going To Increase Taxes And Then Cut LGA In A Way That Drives Up Local Property Taxes.” [Associated Press, 9/29/06]
·      Under Governor Pawlenty, Property Taxes Were Up By Nearly $2.7 Billion. Under Pawlenty, total statewide property taxes have increased by nearly $2.7 billion from 2003 to 2009 or 53.8 percent. [Minnesota House Research Department, Property Tax Simulations – 9A6, 1/7/10; 8A4, 1/8/10; 7A5, 9/27/07; 6A5, 8/18/06; 5A4, 9/19/05; 4C6, 12/29/04; 3G1, 8/26/03]
·         Since 2002, Property Taxes Have Increased By Over 25 Percent For The Average Homesteader Due To Reductions To Local Government Aid By State Government. “Since 2002, Minnesota property taxes, in general, and homeowner property taxes, in particular, have increased rapidly.  The cause of the statewide growth in property taxes is not growth in local government budgets. These property tax hikes are the result of state policies that require more public costs to be borne by property taxpayers and a larger share of total property taxes to be borne by homeowners. Of the 854 cities in Minnesota, 677 (79.3 percent) experienced an increase in per capita property taxes from 2002 to 2009, while 560 (65.6 percent) experienced an increase of ten percent or more…On a statewide basis, the rapid growth in property taxes in Minnesota since 2002 cannot be attributed to growth in local government budgets.  While the average Minnesota homestead property tax has increased by over 25 percent from 2002 to 2008, per capita county, city and township and per pupil school district revenue have all fallen. If growth in local government budgets does not explain the growth in property taxes, what does?  State policies have caused property taxes, generally, and homestead property taxes, specifically, to increase rapidly since 2002. The primary cause of statewide property tax growth is reductions in state aid to local governments.  From 2002 to 2008, state aid to local governments declined by $2.4 billion in 2008 dollars.  In response to these aid reductions, local governments increased property taxes and cut spending.” [“Minnesota Property Taxes by the Numbers: 2009 Edition,” Minnesota 2020, 4/09]
WCCO’s Reality Check: “You Are Paying Billions Of Dollars More In Fees On A Long List Of Items, Including Cigarettes, Parking Tickets, Marriage Licenses, Building Permits, Court Cases, College Tuition And Hundreds Of Other Higher Fees On Pawlenty’s Watch.” “Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty says the 2010 legislative session ended well for Minnesota taxpayers. The governor, who is a possible candidate for president in 2012, said he’s held the line on taxes and spending since his election 8 years ago. But is it true? …He also claims credit for lower taxes, too. ‘We did,’ he said. ‘We recently got Minnesota out of the top 10 in taxes.’ That’s MISLEADING. The credit is, at the very least, shared with a previous governor. Independent Governor Jesse Ventura’s income tax cuts pushed Minnesota off the Top 10 list during Pawlenty’s term. Pawlenty never cut income taxes, but he didn’t raise them, either. However, it doesn’t mean we aren’t paying more. Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW. You are paying billions of dollars more in fees on a long list of items, including cigarettes, parking tickets, marriage licenses, building permits, court cases, college tuition and hundreds of other higher fees on Pawlenty’s watch. Here’s more REALITY. Since 2003, state budget cuts mean Minnesotans pay significantly more in property taxes. And next year, for the first time in 15 years, property taxes in Minnesota will exceed the income tax.” [WCCO, 5/18/10]

RHETORIC: "I set a record for vetoes in my state. Vetoed billions of dollars of tax and spending increases, had the first government shutdown in Minnesota's history.”

Minnesota Public Radio Fact Check: Pawlenty “Leaves The Impression” That The 2005 Government Shutdown Was A Result Of His Desire To Cut Spending, But “What He Doesn't Say, However, Is That To The Extent The Shutdown Continued As Long As It Did, It Was Because The Former Governor Was Holding Out For A Tax Increase On Cigarettes And An Expansion Of State Gambling.” Minnesota Public Radio’s Bob Collins fact-checked Pawlenty’s recollection of the 2005 government shutdown and wrote, “With his new book out, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is making the national media circuit, and providing ample opportunity for the people back home to fact check him. In an interview on FoxNews, for example, the former governor discusses the state government shutdown in 2005, saying it should've been longer to further his agenda: The former governor leaves the impression that the governor was primarily interested in cutting spending, and to a degree that's certainly true. What he doesn't say, however, is that to the extent the shutdown continued as long as it did, it was because the former governor was holding out for a tax increase on cigarettes and an expansion of state gambling.” [Minnesota Public Radio, Bob Collins’ News Cut, 1/12/11]