PoliGraph: MN Forward ad something to cry about

MN Forward, a group backing business-friendly candidates, is airing a new ad attacking Mark Dayton’s tax plan.

“Dayton will raise job killing taxes by $5 billion,” says a voice over in the ad, which features wailing children clearly upset by Dayton’s tax plan. “That’s more than $2,300 in new taxes per Minnesota family.”

Dry your tears, kids. These claims are false.

The Evidence

MN Forward spokesman Brian McClung points to an article written by Minnesota Public Radio’s Tim Pugmire last June, when Dayton was still vying to win the DFL primary. At the time, Dayton hadn’t released many details about his tax plan, only that he was going to raise taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans and that he wanted to raise $5 billion to cover the state’s deficit.

Since then, Dayton has changed his tax proposal because his first wouldn’t have raised enough money. Now, Dayton wants to increase the income tax rate on the state’s wealthiest to 10.95 percent, which will bring in about $1.9 billion over two years.

All told, Dayton plans to raise about $3.7 billion by raising taxes, closing corporate tax loopholes and building a state-owned casino at the Mall of America, and save about $1.2 billion by trimming government spending.

So, MN Forward is using old data to root its claim. But even if it was true, would it mean “more than $2,300 in new taxes per Minnesota family?”


McClung said MN Forward came up with that figure by dividing $5 billion by the more than 2.1 million households in the state. The math works out, but it’s grossly misleading because it implies that every family would pay $2,300 in new taxes, which is false; Dayton’s plan – past and present – only targets a sliver of the state’s population.

The Verdict

The MN Forward ad uses old data to make false claims. It fails the PoliGraph test.


MN Forward, “Still Sad?”, Oct. 2, 2010

Minnesota Public Radio News, DFL candidates for governor trade barbs over taxes, June 9, 2010

Mark Dayton for Governor, Taxes & Budget Plan, accessed Oct. 4, 2010

Minnesota Department of Administration, Minnesota population estimates: number and characteristics of the current population, accessed Oct. 5, 2010

Minnesota Department of Revenue, 2009 Tax Incidence Study, accessed Oct. 4, 2010

Interview, Brian McClung, Oct. 2, 2010