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By Sean Gorman July 2, 2012

Majority PAC says Tim Kaine made Virginia the best state for business

The Majority PAC, an advocacy group for Democrats, has jumped into Virginia’s ad wars to boost U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine.

One of its TV spots starts by slamming Republican nominee George Allen’s record during his term in the Senate from 2001 to 2007. Then the ad exalts Kaine’s record as governor from 2006 to 2010.

"But Tim Kaine? He made Virginia the best state for business four years in a row," the narrator says.

In citations in the ad and on its website, Majority PAC bases its claim on a story in The Virginian-Pilot on September 24, 2009 about then-Gov. Kaine’s announcement that Forbes magazine had named Virginia the best state for business for the fourth consecutive year.

We’ll stipulate that Forbes proclaimed Virginia the best state for business each year of Kaine’s governorship, a fact we have previously noted. On April 7, 2011, we gave a True rating to Kaine’s statement that during his governorship, various publications had named Virginia "best managed state, best state for business and best state to raise a child."

But Majority Pac’s commercial adds a wrinkle. It says Kaine "made’’ Virginia the best state for business.

So in this Truth-O-Meter, we will examine whether Kaine’s efforts as governor were the reason Virginia topped Forbes’ lists.

Kurt Badenhausen, a senior editor at Forbes who works on the state rankings, was reluctant to say whether Kaine was responsible for Virginia’s No. 1 status. "I’ll just say that we base the rankings on 30-something economic metrics," he told us.

Badenhausen said the metrics fall into six categories: business costs, labor supplies, regulatory environment, current economic climate, the state’s growth prospects and quality of life.

As our collegues at recently noted, Forbes started its annual "best state" rankings in August 2006 --  just seven months into Kaine’s term as governor. That was hardly enough time for Kaine to have major impact on the Virginia’s business climate. Kaine didn’t take credit for the honor, and was quoted in the 2006 Forbes article saying the state had a "bipartisan tradition of wanting to have a strong business climate."

The 2006 article lauded Virginia for a number of attributes that had been decades and longer in the making. Forbes noted Virginia’s low corporate income tax of 6 percent, a level that had existed for more than 30 years.

The magazine also said Virginia’s top-notch AAA bond rating kept the state from "nickel and diming its corporate constituents." The state has had a AAA credit rating since 1938.

The article said, "Virginia gets a "tremendous benefit from its location and infrastructure. The state is located within 750 miles of two-thirds of the U.S. population. It is home to one of the country's busiest international airports, Washington Dulles International, and the country's fifth busiest port, Hampton Roads."

Forbes listed as among "Virginia’s strongest attributes" the University of Virginia (founded in 1819) and The College of William & Mary (founded in 1693).

We should note that Virginia was highly regarded by Forbes in 2005 -- the year before Kaine entered office.

That year, Forbes ranked the nation’s 150 largest metropolitan areas by their friendliness to starting a business or a career. Virginia had three regions on the Top 20 list: Washington DC-Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and metropolitan Richmond. Only Texas had more, with four areas in the Top 20.

Forbes wrote, "Where are the best places to jumpstart a business or a career? Texas and Virginia, with highly educated labor forces and relatively low business costs, score well on our annual rankings of the 150 biggest metros. No other state places more than one locale in the upper echelon."

Virginia ranked second behind Utah on the Forbes best state list in 2010 and 2011 under Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Our ruling

Majority Pac says Tim Kaine "made Virginia the best state for business four years in a row."

The state earned the honor from Forbes Magazine for four straight years when Kaine was governor, but it’s wrong to say Kaine created the conditions that led to Virginia’s selection. The major attributes Forbes cited for Virginia’s rating were in place long before Kaine took office: a low corporate tax rate, AAA bond rating, infrastructure, location, an educated workforce and top universities.

Kaine certainly deserves kudos for preserving Virginia’s assets. But as governor, he attributed the top honors to Virginia’s "bipartisan tradition" of building a strong business climate.

So we rate Majority PAC’s claim Mostly False.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Majority Pac, "Only one,"June 18, 2012.

Majority Pac, "Our Mission," accessed June 26, 2012.

Majority Pac, "‘Only One’ facts," June 18, 2012.

Majority Pac, "Democrats respond to American Crossroads’ attacks," June 17, 2012.

PolitiFact Virginia, "Tim Kaine says Virginia was named "best managed state, best for business while he was governor," April 5, 2011., "Democratic PAC distorts facts in Virginia Senate race," June 21, 2012.

The Virginian Pilot, "Forbes ranks Va. best for business again," September 24, 2009.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Forbes again lists Va. as best for business," September 24, 2009.

Forbes, "Best places for business and careers," May 5, 2005.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership, "We’re pro-business and we’re proud," June 25, 2009.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership, "Pro-business climate," accessed June 27, 2012.

Interview with Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes magazine, June 28, 2012.

Pollina corporate real estate, inc., "Pollina corporate top 10 pro-business states," 2011

Forbes, "Virginia: the best state for business," August 16, 2006.

Forbes, "The best states for business," July 11, 2007

Forbes, "The best states for business," July 31, 2008.

Forbes, "The best states for business," September 23, 2009.

Forbes, "The best states for business and careers," October 13, 2010.

Forbes, "The best states for business," November 22, 2011.

CNBC, "Virginia is tops for business in 2007," July 13, 2007.

CNBC, "And the winner is -- Texas," July 9, 2008.

CNBC, "CNBC’s top states for business 2009 - And the winner is …," July 23, 2009.

CNBC, "CNBC’s top states for business 2010 -- And the winner is Texas," July 13, 2010.

CNBC, "Virginia is victorious -- again -- in CNBC’s top states for business," June 28, 2011.

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More by Sean Gorman

Majority PAC says Tim Kaine made Virginia the best state for business

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