Governor Chet Culver's campaign released a second television commercial spotlighting Terry Branstad's record. Like the Culver tv ad that debuted last week, the new commercial mentions Branstad's dismal record on fiscal issues. It also mentions eight pay raises that Branstad signed for himself, some of them during very tight budget years:
As Governor, Terry Branstad admitted "his books were never balanced." According to the State Auditor, Terry "cooked the books." And when state unemployment hit a record high, Branstad asked for a raise. When Terry cut foster care, Branstad took another raise. When the state couldn't pay its bills, Branstad raised our taxes and raised his pay once again. Terry Branstad: Cooked books, Raised Taxes, Eight pay raises. A past we can't repeat.
A Culver campaign press release with supporting facts and citations from news reports is after the jump.
We all know Branstad wasn't a good manager of state finances, but I like the way this ad touches on his deeply flawed priorities as well. Branstad started seeking a pay raise during his very first year in office, when unemployment peaked at 8.5 percent. A few years later, this guy wasn't ashamed to take home more money even as he was cutting foster care programs.
I hope future Culver ads will underscore how cutting state assistance to vulnerable Iowans has long been Branstad's knee-jerk preference, rather than his last resort. The foster care cuts highlighted in Culver's new commercial occurred in 1987. When Iowa faced a budget crisis in 1992, Branstad brought two money-saving ideas to a meeting with state lawmakers in advance of a special legislative session: first, cut spending on foster care, and second, cut Medicaid programs that helped children buy eyeglasses and keep senior citizens out of nursing homes. During this year's campaign, when asked an open-ended question about how he would cut state government, Branstad
said he's still looking for ideas but did mention reforming the state's mental health system and rolling back Medicaid, which has been expanded to cover more people, including children. He said state employees should pay for their health insurance like private sector employees.
That's classic Branstad. Gee, I haven't figured out yet how to make the budget numbers add up, but why not change Medicaid so that fewer people qualify? While we're at it, let's stop helping tens of thousands of families send their four-year-olds to preschool.
Branstad's record of incompetence should be at the center of the gubernatorial campaign, but let's not forget about his skewed priorities.
UPDATE: Conservative blogger Gary Barrett claims the Culver ad distorts the facts on Branstad's pay hikes. The Culver campaign released a response to Barrett's post, which you'll find after the jump.
The Branstad campaign cited a Des Moines Register report from 1982 on how Branstad didn't want a pay raise and might veto such a bill. Culver's campaign leaped on that as evidence Branstad "said one thing and did another on pay raises."