Fact check: Coalition of Minnesota Businesses ads thanking legislators for not growing size of government false

The Coalition of Minnesota Businesses has been placing web ads thanking legislators for their work during past two sessions at the Minnesota State Capitol – click here to view their latest report of contributions and expenditures.  I live in Eagan, so I have been seeing web ads thanking State Senator Ted Daley (R-Eagan) for “growing jobs, not government.” The Coalition’s website has a listing of numerous ads featuring legislative incumbents – 14 in total. Please note: these ads are not expenditures that have been coordinated with any of the incumbents featured in the ads.  Therefore, the legislators mentioned are not responsible for the content.  So, while it’s true Minnesota has grown jobs in the last two years, it is false to claim the size of state government hasn’t grown.

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Minnesota’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in January 2011 and currently it is 5.6 percent.   Minnesota has added an estimated 51,133 jobs to the workforce during the same time-period.

ted daley ad

But it is incorrect to thank Sen. Ted Daley, or any of the other 14 legislators highlighted in this these ad for “not growing” government as Republicans passed the largest General Fund budget in the history of Minnesota – which was later vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton. The final budget agreement which passed the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Governor Mark Dayton and ended the state government shutdown of 2011 was the also the largest General Fund budget in the history of Minnesota.  By every available indicator, the size of state government has grown over the last two years. Click here for a spreadsheet detailing the growth in state spending since 1960.

In fact, even conservative members of the Minnesota Senate like Senator Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) complained when DEED mischaracterized the specifics of the budget passed by the Minnesota Legislature:

“DEED’s lie is shameful. The Minnesota State Legislature adjourned on May 23, 2011, having passed the largest general fund budget in state history, which appropriated money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011.” Source: Senator Dave Thompson Press Release, June 14, 2011

Hennepin County Commissioner and Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson wrote just this week that the size of state government spending grew by over 7.2 percent between the last two bienniums:

“But wait, just this last year the governor supposedly gave in to the Republican ‘all cuts’ budget after the government shutdown, right? That ‘all cuts budget will actually result in a spending increase of 7.2 percent from the 2010-11 biennium to the 2012-13 biennium.” Source: Jeff Johnson op-ed, Star Tribune, September 17, 2012.

Senator Ted Daley’s website doesn’t even make the claim that he reduced the size of state government:

“Using budgeting discipline, cutting fat and fraud and making tough choices, Senator Ted Daley and fellow conservatives reduced state spending increases and balanced the budget and to the point in May 2012 we have a surplus of over$1.3 billion.” Source Daley for Senate website

Reducing state spending increases does not mean you reduced the size of state government, rather that you reduced the rate state spending increased. State spending increased, but at a slower rate.  Republicans and Democrats can boast about numerous reforms and cost-saving measures enacted over the last two years – but the size of state government has grown.

2 bobbers

The web ads from the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses which includes a statement thanking legislators for growing jobs is accurate, but the statement which thanks these same legislators for not growing the size of state government is false.  Because of the false statement about the size of state government, I give the ads a score of Two Bobbers.

The highest score a fact-check statement can receive on politics.mn is Four Bobbers. If you’d like a political advertisement or statement fact-checked, please send me an e-mail via the contact page on politics.mn. Is my review fair? Leave a comment.

This post was written by Michael Brodkorb and originally published on politics.mn – an inside view of Minnesota politics. Follow politics.mn on Twitter: @politicsdotmn.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/24/2012 - 02:45 pm.

    So the growth of the state budget has slowed, and warrants the business group[s] to thank their Republican legislators. I just don’t see, from this article, how the state of Minnesota, through its legislature, has grown jobs. Isn’t that up to private business, especially since it seems that the total number of actual employees of the state government has gone down in the past several years?

  2. Submitted by Peter Nelson on 09/24/2012 - 07:23 pm.

    “Fact check” gets two bobbers

    Based on the “bobber scale,” I’d give this fact check the same two bobbers it gives to the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses’ ad. That’s because the fact check is missing both context and additional facts. It’s certainly true that the government is spending more money in this biennium than the last. But that’s not the whole story. Texas’s budget is about three times higher than Minnesota’s. Based on that fact, would anyone claim Texas is a big goverment state compared to Minnesota? Obviously not. To compare Minnesota to Texas you have to look at the size of the budget in the context of the population and the overall size of the state economy. You must do the same when comparing Minnesota’s budget from year to year. One measure Minnesota Management & Budget must by law post every year is the Price of Government, which reports the state and local revenue collected as a percent of personal income. (See http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/doc/budget/report-pog/june12.pdf). Using that number, since FY2011, government appears to be shrinking as a percent of personal income. Also, the government’s workforce appears to be shrinking. According to the U.S. Census, the number of full-time equivalent public employees in state and local government dropped from 279,290 in 2010 to 277,179 in 2011. (See http://www.census.gov/govs/apes/). I don’t want to suggest that the legislature made substantial strides in reducing the size of government, but there are some numbers that suggest government did shrink a smidge. Thus, it seems calling the claim flat out false fails to meet the lofty standards set by the bobber test.

  3. Submitted by Pat Berg on 09/24/2012 - 11:18 pm.

    Has anyone noticed . . . .

    that Michael Brodkorb is the author of this article?

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/25/2012 - 09:41 am.

    Has anyone noticed…

    Yeah, that’s why I didn’t read it.

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