TRUTH TEST: Johnson Claims Pawlenty Big Spender, Light Rail Supporter

October 17, 2018 11:02 AM

Two weeks after Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty put a TV ad on the air claiming his primary opponent Jeff Johnson is a big tax-and-spender, Johnson has returned political fire with an ad of his own.

"Tim Pawlenty gave us higher spending and massive fee increases," the Johnson ad says with Johnson himself handling the narration.


TRUTH TEST: Pawlenty Ad Attacking Johnson Misleading

It is true that spending went up under Pawlenty during his eight years in office. However, some context is required because this is misleading.

It's true state spending has gone up just about every year under every governor. When Pawlenty launched his campaign for president in 2011, the Pulitzer-prize winning website "Politifact" looked into his claims that he held down the rate of spending.

They found that on average spending went up about 3.53 percent every two years. That compares to an average of 21 percent increases every two years during the previous 42 years.

How KSTP Grades Political Ads in Truth Test

At the end of every "Truth Test," 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and assign the tested political ad a grade.

Here's the criteria we use to determine that grade:

- An "A" requires nearly complete accuracy with little exaggeration and little or no need for more context.

- A "B" requires mostly accurate information, but gets marked down for minor exaggerations and misleading information.

- A "C" can be the result of inaccurate information or exaggerated information that misleads and gives the viewer no context.

- A "D" is the result of at least half the information being false or misleading to the point of leaving a false impression.

- An "F" is the result of more than half the information being outright false as well as misleading and out of context.

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It is also true Pawlenty signed hundreds of millions of dollars in new fees. The biggest was the 75-cent per-pack cigarette "health impact fee" in 2005 that brought in more than $500 million dollars over the first two years it was collected.

In a previous budget, Pawlenty had signed into law $200 million in other fees on everything from hunting licenses to state park permits.

TRUTH TEST: Ad Attacking Pawlenty Makes Health Care Claims

"He brought us green energy mandates, light rail, common core," Johnson's ad goes on to say. "Tim had his chance and he blew it."

It is true Pawlenty signed "renewable energy mandates" into law in 2007 that called for significantly more biofuel use by 2025. The mandates were among the strictest in the country.

KSTP 2018 Election Page

It is not true to say Pawlenty "brought us...light rail."

In fact, as House Majority Leader, Pawlenty fought Gov. Jesse Ventura on funding for the original Hiawatha light rail line - a battle Ventura won.

Later, as governor, Pawlenty, cut funding for the Central Corridor line between St. Paul and Minneapolis. However, the line was still built despite Pawlenty's opposition.

KSTP Political Brew

Finally, it is true Pawlenty's administration adopted some of the controversial Common Core education standards in 2011. The state only adopted the English standards, not math.

The standards still haven't been fully implemented.

This ad from the Johnson campaign contains a mix of true, misleading and false assertions.

It gets a "B-minus" on the "Truth Test."


Tom Hauser

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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