Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 29, 2010

Truth Squad: Tough ad, but no foul

THE CENTER FOR MICHIGAN
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---- — Republican Governors Association — "Verdict" TV Ad

Who: Republican Governors Association

Featured Material: Anti-Bernero "Verdict" TV Ad

Truth Squad Call: No Foul

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS

"He's worked for government most of his adult life."

This ad by the Republican Governors Association attacks the record of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who is the Democratic nominee for governor.

It's true that Bernero has served in government and in nonprofit agencies most of his adult life. He has worked as a legislative aide in the House and Senate, served as an Ingham County commissioner, a state representative and a state senator.

"Doing what old-style, career politicians do — just voting to raise taxes and fees. That's Virg Bernero. Tax and fee increases of things like youth soccer and ambulance rides."

Text appears on the screen that says Bernero voted for 73 tax or fee increases while in the Legislature and proposed 260 fee increases as Lansing's mayor.

The Republican Governors Association provided the Truth Squad with documentation backing up those claims. Bernero spokesman Cullen Schwarz didn't dispute the statements.

"Tell Virg, tax increases kill jobs."

Republicans make some variation of this statement in virtually every ad they run. They take it on faith that it's true. But they have yet to offer proof that tax hikes, absent other economic factors, result in job losses.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

The ad portrays Bernero as a stereotypical tax-and-spend Democrat. It cites votes he cast in the Legislature to raise taxes and fees and proposals for higher fees from Lansing city budget documents.

But the Lansing city budget has been balanced every year without general tax hikes since Bernero was elected mayor in 2005. Bernero has trimmed the city's work force by almost 15 percent. He has cut the city budget 1.7 percent since 2006.

Some of the tax hikes and fees Bernero voted for in the Legislature were proposed by Republicans, according to the Associated Press. And many of the higher fees Bernero recommended as mayor of Lansing were designed to maintain city services in the face of cuts in state revenue sharing.

The ad also describes Bernero as an "old-style," career politician. It doesn't mention his Republican opponent, Rick Snyder, who is running as a "nerd" with the business skills to "reinvent" Michigan. Snyder has never held elective office.

TRUTH SQUAD CALL

No foul. It's a tough ad citing statistics that the Bernero camp doesn't refute. But it fails to note that Republicans proposed some of the tax and fee increases he voted for in the Legislature.