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Reality Check: Left-Leaning Group Takes On Pawlenty In New Ad

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- An emotional new television ad accuses former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of balancing the state budget by cutting funds for sick children.

It is a provocative allegation -- but how true is it?

The emotional ad from a left-leaning political group tells the story of a Moose Lake mother and her son, born with a heart defect.

Click here to view the ad. Here is the transcript:

'When our son Nick was born, he was born with three-fourths of a heart. So, now I have a new baby with a heart problem and all these medical bills. I had no idea what to do.' As governor, Pawlenty cut health care for seniors and children, like Cheryl's son Nick. And under Pawlenty, medical costs skyrocketed, and the number of uninsured grew 50 percent. Tim Pawlenty might seem like a nice guy. Nice guys don't cut health care benefits for children with disabilities. We cannot go back to Tim Pawlenty. I think we learned our lesson.

Tim Pawlenty (credit: CBS)

Taking the claims in order:

"As governor, Pawlenty cut health care for seniors and children."

That is true. Pawlenty faced a jaw-dropping $2.7 billion budget deficit when he was governor. He made painful cuts to state programs, including a health care program called TEFRA for parents like Sheryl to care for their disabled children at home.

"And under Pawlenty, medical costs skyrocketed."

In fact, Medical costs did go up in Minnesota from 2001 to 2008: 73.8 percent, according to the left-leaning health care website Families USA -- faster than family incomes.

Pawlenty's budget cuts played a part that, but it is also true that health care costs spiked across the country.

Read More: Reality Check - Tim Pawlenty's Attack Ad Against Jeff Johnson

"And the number of uninsured grew 50 percent."

This is misleading. The rate of uninsured rose from 6.1 percent to 9.1 percent when Pawlenty was governor. But experts say the biggest factor was The Great Recession. The Minnesota Department of Health cites a major spike in unemployment, and workers who lost their employer health coverage.

The ad concludes: "Tim Pawlenty might seem like a nice guy. Nice guys don't cut health care benefits for children with disabilities. We cannot go back to Tim Pawlenty."

The ad is running in heavy rotation on Minnesota television stations by the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, and outside liberal advocacy group. According to, ABM is a Democratic group funded by labor unions and the wealthy family of Governor Mark Dayton. In 2014 elections, it spent more than $1 million against Minnesota Republicans.

Here Are Some Of The Sources We Used For This Reality Check:

Alliance For A Better Minnesota

Who To Blame For High Medical Costs

MN Budget Impact On Children 2006-07

House Sustains Pawlenty Veto Of Health Care Program

Health Spending Projections 2001-2011

MN Health Care Spending Projections 2012

Health Care and Spending Projections 2013

Health Spending Projections Through 2019

Families USA ABM

ABM Site Meet Tim Pawlenty Pawlenty Health Care Cuts

MN Health Dept: Uninsured

Alliance For A Better Minnesota Funding

St. Paul Pioneer Press: Pawlenty Health Care "Reform"

Pawlenty Outlines Health Care Proposal 2009

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