October 16th Debate

Non-Partisan Guide to Governor’s Race


Burke vs. WalkerMary Burke and Scott Walker participated in one last debate of the issues on October 17th. A detailed analysis of that debate can be found on PolitiFact Wisconsin by clicking HERE. I’ll try to summarize that article, but please view the entire article so you can better understand the issues. According to PolitiFact, there was plenty of falsehoods presented on both sides of the table. After reading this summary, I encourage you to scroll down and review stated views on specific issues by both Burke and Walker.

Burke claims that Walker’s policies has caused the real income of a “typical Wisconsin family” to drop by nearly $3000 in the last four years. PolitiFact rates that statement as Mostly False. While median household income in Wisconsin has fallen $2743 in four years, most of that drop occurred before Walker took office in 2011.

She also stated that Wisconsin is “dead last” in the Midwest on job creation, a claim that PolitiFact rates as False. While the quarterly jobs data for March 2011 to March 2014 does reflect that statistic, that period does not correspond to Walker’s term. In the past year, Wisconsin jobs data has moved ahead of two other midwestern states.

Walker blamed former governor, Jim Doyle for tax and spending hikes that are “largely responsible” for the state’s 133,000 drop in private sector jobs between 2006 and 2010. PolitiFact rates that claim as Mostly False, noting that the state and national economy was in the worst downturn in decades. In actuality, Wisconsin fared somewhat better during that period of time than the rest of the country.

Sometimes, it’s all a matter of how statistics are presented. Burke touted that unemployment in Wisconsin was as low as 4.8% when she ran the Wisconsin Commerce Department under Gov. Doyle…this is a true statement. However, Walker was also right when he stated that the only time in the last 25 years that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate exceeded the U.S. average was when Burke was in her Commerce job.

I encourage you to follow this LINK and read the entire article regarding this debate. It is very interesting, and illuminates the old saw that figures don’t lie, but liars figure!  These are especially important numbers, since the state’s nonpartisan fiscal bureau has said that Wisconsin faces what is commonly known as a budget shortfall, or “structural” deficit of $1.8 billion for the next budget period, 2015-2017. If there are no changes in revenue or spending (or both), the next biennial budget will be out of balance.

The state constitution forbids a deficit, so the next governor will have to devise a solution that corrects the imbalance between ongoing revenues and spending. This is not a unique situation however. In January of 2011, when Walker took office, he faced a $2.5 billion “out-year commmitment” or shortfall, as well as an increase in funding requests from state agencies of approximately $1.1 billion. This ammounted to a $3.6 billion “deficit.” Walker addressed this emergency at the time through funding cuts and by passing the Act 10 collective bargaining law.  Nobody said the job of being governor would be easy…regardless of which of these candidates gets elected, they have their work cut out for them.

What follows is an attempt at clarifying the differences in political and philosophical views of Wisconsin Democratic Governor candidate Mary Burke, and those of incumbent Republican candidate Scott Walker. Sources for this information Vote Smart, the Huffington Post, and the Campus Election Engagement Project, which relied on OnTheIssues.org, BallotPedia, PolitiFact, FactCheck, and Vote411 (funded by the League of Women Voters Education Fund).  We are trying to stick solely to campaign stances, and hope that this will allay the concerns of those who are predisposed to find bias in reports such as this.

The first table lists policy positions, and the second table displays some of the endorsements or favorable scores each candidate has received from various organizations. Each organization is linked to a web page that summarizes their stances on issues, and has links to their web pages. This is by no means a complete dissection of their views and track records, but hopefully our readers will walk away with a slightly better understanding of where each of these candidates stand on key issues.

Policy Positions

Mary Burke


Scott Walker


Education: Support of expanded eduation funding Unclear Has talked about making public school funding a priority, but without specific commitment. No Cut funding in 2011 in response to budget shortfall (the largest per student cut in the U.S.), then froze education budget in 2013. The Act 10 law freed up new funds for school districts by saving on employee pension costs, and the end of collective bargaining saved school districts on health care costs and benefits.
Education: Support effort to standardize and increase school standards under Common Core initiative. Yes   No
Education: Support providing vouchers to parents to send their children to private schools with public money. No Would stop expansion of vouchers, route money to public schools. Yes Would invest more money in vouchers, and hold line on public school funding. Under Walker, public schools saw less funding while state support of private schools has expanded as more districts were included in the voucher program.
Education: Support increased funding for higher education. Yes   No  
Elections: Support voter ID No   Yes  
Elections: Support increasing restrictions on campaign donations. Yes Supports banning all donations from individuals who are not residents of Wisconsin No  
Environment: Believes human behavior a major factor contributing to climate change Yes   No  
Environment: Support taking government action to limit the levels of greenhouse gases Yes   No  
Environment: Support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy Yes   No Has signed the No Climate Tax Pledge, strongly opposes both mandates and subsidies. Opposes any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.
Gay Marriage: Support of gay marriage Yes   No  
Gun Control: Support enacting more restrictive gun control legislation Yes   No  
Healthcare: Support the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare Yes   No  
Healthcare: Should Wisconsin accept federal funds so Medicaid will cover people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty line Yes   No  
Immigration: Support colleges and universities awarding in-state tuition rates to state residents who are not citizens Yes   No  
Marijuana: Support efforts to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana Yes/partially Supports medical marijuana No Supported legalizing low THC extract for childhood epilepsy, otherwise opposes medical marijuana
Minimum Wage: Support raising the minimum wage Yes   No Stated that he won’t repeal it, but doesn’t think it “serves a purpose” compared to promoting job growth in general
Social Issues: Should abortion be highly restricted No   Yes  
Social Issues: Should employers be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if they disagree with it morally No   Yes  
Taxes: Signed Americans for Tax Reform Pledge promising to oppose “any and all tax increases” designed to generate additional revenue No   Yes Walker has signed multiple tax-cut measures, cutting income taxes for wealthier residents, while raising tax for some people on the lower end of the scale by reducing tax credits. However, his income tax cuts have been applied across the board. 
Taxes: Would increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services Potentially Still finalizing specific plan No  
Unions: Should public employees (such as firefighters, police, and teachers) have the right to bargain as a group for wages and benefits Yes   No  


Endorsements by Issue

Mary Burke

Scott Walker

Abortion/Birth Control Planned Parenthood Wisconsin Right to Life
Education Center for Education Reform
Environmental Sierra Club
Guns National Rifle Association
Labor & Business Service Employees Int. UnionUnited Auto WorkersUnited Food & Commercial WorkersWisconsin AFL-CIO Wisconsin Manufacturers & CommerceWisconsin National Federation of Independent Business
LGBT Rights Fair Wisconsin
Women’s Issues Feminist Majority PACWomen’s Campaign Fund

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