PoliGraph: GOP gets it right on Clark’s tax record

Though it’s still unclear who 8th Congressional District Rep. Chip Cravaack’s Democratic challenger will be this fall, Republicans in Minnesota and in Washington have started throwing barbs at all three of the GOP incumbent’s possible opponents, Tarryl Clark included.

Here’s what the Republican Party of Minnesota said in a recent press release, accusations that have been trumpeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee as well.

“Tarryl supported raising taxes every year she served in the Minnesota State Senate. She also cast the deciding vote to give Minnesota the fifth highest income tax bracket in the country.”

The Minnesota GOP has this claim correct.

The Evidence

Clark served in the Minnesota Senate starting in December 2005 after winning a special election, and served through the 2009-2010 legislative session.

During Clark’s tenure, the Senate voted multiple times on tax increases. While the state Republican Party doesn’t make clear which tax increases it is referring to, it is true that Clark voted in favor of at least one significant tax increase every year she was in office ranging from gas tax increases to a sales tax hike to pay for the Twins stadium. Many of her fellow Democrats did, too.

The second part of the GOP’s claim refers to a 2010 DFL effort to close the budget gap by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans.

The legislation would have increased the state’s tax rate from 7.85 percent to 9.1 percent for individuals making more than $113,110 and couples making more than $200,000 in taxable income.

At the time, the change would have made “Minnesota’s top income tax bracket higher than all but five states for single filers and six states for married joint filers,” the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported after the bill was passed by the Senate.

The legislation nearly didn’t pass the Senate. After the vote stalled at 33-33 for 14 minutes, Clark showed up and cast the deciding vote in favor of the bill, according to numerous news reports.

At the time, Clark was running against Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District. Clark said she was tardy because she was dealing with a family health problem.

Clark campaign manager Joe Fox said that Clark cast that vote to help middle class families.

“In the 2010 vote the Republican Party references, Tarryl opted to ask the wealthiest of Minnesotans to pay a little more to ease the burden on middle class property owners,” Fox said.

The Verdict

The Republican Party of Minnesota gets this claim right on both counts: Clark voted for a tax increase each year she was in the state Legislature, and she was the deciding vote on an income tax increase in 2010.

The PoliGraph says this claim is accurate.


Minnesota Public Radio News, Votetracker, HF2480, Twins Stadium bill, May 21, 2006

State Senate records, May 14, 2007, roll call on gas tax increase, p. 4141

Minnesota Public Radio News, Votetracker, HF2088, Transportation bill, Feb. 21, 2008

State Senate records, April 24, 2009, roll call on income tax increase, p. 2754

The Pioneer Press, From Legislature: Tax hikes, budget cuts; From Pawlenty: A likely veto, By Jason Hoppin and Bill Salisbury Pioneer Press, May 10, 2010 (subscription only)

Minnesota Public Radio, Bachmann campaign hits Clark on tax vote, by Tom Scheck, May 12, 2010

  • “Deciding” is a cliche used when a measure passes by one vote or a team wins or loses at the end of the game. Clark did what 33 others did and together they decided.

    Ron Gardenhire would rate this two-thirds correct with the other third misleading.

  • Jamie

    Why don’t you do an analysis that expands people’s indertanding of what her tax votes meant, rather than just saying Republicans claims are correct? This is very shallow journalism indeed.

    And I noticed that there are no fact-chack articles here about all the lies that extremists/Republicans/tea-baggers are telling about the Affordable Care Act. I can hardly believe all the lying they are doing about it. It’s more than their usual lying. Why aren’t you fact-checking those lies?