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We asked, they answered: Governor candidates

Scott Walker (left) and Tony Evers

Democrat Tony Evers, the current Superintendent of Public Instruction, is hoping to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who voters elected governor in 2010. Walker won an attempted recall election in 2012 and was elected for a third time in 2014.

Tony Evers (Democrat)

  • Age: 66
  • Address: PO Box 1879, Madison, Wisconsin, 53701
  • Website:
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  • Education: UW-Madison, BA, MA, PhD
  • Family: Tony is married to Kathy Evers and the two of them have three children and nine grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Civic involvement: Tony is a lifelong educator who began his career as a science teacher in Tomah. He currently serves on the UW Board of Regents, the Early Childhood Advisory Council, the SERVE Wisconsin Board, the Wisconsin Technical College System Board, and the Wisconsin Education Business Roundtable.

Why should voters pick you?

What is best for our kids is best for our state. From my time as a high school science teacher to my current job as Wisconsin's State Superintendent, I have dedicated my life to children, education and investing in Wisconsin's future.

Yet, I've had more than a few moments over the last eight years where I've struggled to recognize the Wisconsin I love. More than a million people voted to raise their own taxes because Scott Walker failed to adequately fund our public schools. Unfortunately, Walker put his presidential ambition ahead of protecting people with pre-existing conditions. He has given foreign corporations billions in taxpayer-funded handouts, while our roads deteriorate and our drinking water gets polluted.

We've had enough of the "divide and conquer" and career politicians who put campaign donors and their own political ambitions before the people of Wisconsin. That's why it's time for a change in November.

Do you support the Foxconn project? Why or why not?

For eight years, Scott Walker has focused on corporate subsidies to international companies and tax breaks for his political donors, rather than statewide economic development strategies that benefit everyday people in Wisconsin.

Walker's $4.5+ billion Foxconn giveaway costs taxpayers $200+ million annually, pulling resources from the rest of the state to subsidize a broken political deal. Meanwhile, more than 800,000 Wisconsin families cannot afford basic necessities, western Wisconsin led the nation in farm bankruptcies in 2017 and Wisconsin ranks dead last for new business startups, which are crucial for job creation and innovation.

As governor, I will clean up Walker's bad deal for Wisconsin. We will ensure these are truly family-supporting jobs, while protecting our water and air quality. Finally, we will adopt an economic development strategy that work in all 72 Wisconsin counties, not just one region. No more winners and losers and no more divide and conquer.

Do you think funding is adequate at UW-System campuses like River Falls or are tuition increases necessary? Why or why not?

The University of Wisconsin System has been the crown jewel of higher education. Unfortunately, that's changed under Scott Walker. Walker has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the UW system, star faculty have fled for other institutions, majors are disappearing and the Board of Regents has become politically polarized.

Budgets are about priorities. My priority is to fully fund public education at every level, and I'm prepared to make tough decisions as governor to ensure we're doing what's best for our kids.

As governor, I will reverse the trends of the past eight years and increase investments in both our technical schools and the UW System. I will fully fund UW's tuition freeze, work to make higher education more affordable for everyone, and allow graduates to refinance their student loan debt just like a mortgage.

Would you support a funding increase to pay for state road improvements? If so, how would you pay for it?

Our road quality ranks 44th in the country and our roads have become so bad, many towns and villages are returning to gravel. Scott Walker won't deal with the problem, instead borrowing astronomical sums of money and leaving our children and grandchildren on the hook to pay it off. Even his own party and his own Secretary of the Department of Transportation have said he botched this crisis.

Debt payments as a share of transportation revenue is set to double by 2019. None of that money is going to fix our local roads, leaving numerous counties and cities passing "wheel taxes" to help cover basic road maintenance costs. Even Walker's hometown of Wauwatosa is voting on a $30 yearly vehicle tax to address the shortfalls.

There are bipartisan long-term solutions for Wisconsin's transportation system; however, Scott Walker hasn't shown the political will. Drawing a line in the sand is not leadership.

Is there any room left for bipartisan cooperation on substantive issues? If so, how would you work — or have you worked — across party lines on major items?

Absolutely. As governor, I know I'll need to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to get things done. I have a track record of bringing people together, and I will end the divisiveness that has consumed our state. Together we can reinvest in Wisconsin's future to improve education, protect the environment, rebuild our infrastructure, expand healthcare coverage and jumpstart our economy. I'll focus on solving problems, not picking political fights.

There are so many areas where Republicans and Democrats share common values. Instead of focusing on what brings us together, Scott Walker has exploited differences and driven Wisconsinites apart. Whether is access to public land, great schools, or an effective justice system, Wisconsinites want results and progress, not partisanship. I'm committed to working with everyone in our legislature, regardless of party affiliation, to move Wisconsin forward.

Scott Walker (Republican, incumbent)

Why should voters pick you?

Real leadership vs talk.

Our reforms helped the people of Wisconsin grow jobs and increase wages. More people are working in Wisconsin this year than ever before and average weekly wages are up nearly 20 percent since 2010.

We inherited a $3.6 billion budget deficit and turned it into a surplus.

We invested more actual dollars into schools than ever before: $200 more per year per student and more for rural schools.

We lowered the burden on hardworking taxpayers by more than $8 billion with lower property and income taxes.

When Obamacare premiums went up 44 percent and Washington failed to act, we took action with a plan that lowers premiums by more than 4 percent and increases choices.

Our Open Book program tracks government expenses and we were given an A ranking for openness and transparency.

We delivered on the promises made and will do so again over the next four years.

Do you support the Foxconn project? Why or why not?

Yes. Foxconn is the largest economic development project in state history — $10 billion. Foxconn will create 13,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs — with an average salary of $53,875 plus benefits. Like other projects in the state, they will receive tax incentives if they earn them based on actual investments and job creation.

No jobs and investment. No incentives.

Thankfully, they have already broken ground, made investments and hired staff here in Wisconsin. People will benefit from the construction work, direct employment, and indirect employment. Foxconn already has almost $100 million in contracts for site preparation with 3,000 workers from 60 different Wisconsin companies (including many in western Wisconsin) impacting families from nearly all of Wisconsin's 72 counties.

Just as Microsoft helped transform the State of Washington, Foxconn will do the same for Wisconsin.

Do you think funding is adequate at UW-System campuses like River Falls or are tuition increases necessary? Why or why not?

To keep the cost of college affordable for students and working families, we froze tuition at all UW campuses six years in a row — the first multi-year tuition freeze in UW history, and now we want to freeze it for another four years. Needs-based financial assistance is also at an all-time high.

The UW has more than $1 billion in academic research and development, and the overall UW System budget is the largest it has ever been so we can focus on more graduates filling high-demand positions in our state.

We're focused on finding ways to help students get a head start on credits for our technical colleges, UW campuses and all other in-state colleges and universities. And I am proposing a up to $5,000 tax credit for any graduate of a 2-year or more college or university if they work in Wisconsin for at least five years.

Would you support a funding increase to pay for state road improvements? If so, how would you pay for it?

We kept our promise to hold the line on taxes and still helped maintain our local roads and state highways. In contrast, Tony Evers has said that a gas tax increase of up to $1 per gallon is "on the table."

We gave local governments the largest increase in state aid in 20 years during the last budget. And we just announced that state transportation aid to counties and towns will be at the highest levels ever in our next state budget.

In total, we invested $24 billion into the state transportation system compared to $21 billion by former Gov. Jim Doyle. We had to backfill his raid of more than $1 billion from the transportation fund.

Wisconsin taxpayers spent over $1 billion on major interchanges in Milwaukee during the past decade. It's time to stop these new interchanges and spread that money out to the rest of the state.

Is there any room left for bipartisan cooperation on substantive issues? If so, how would you work — or have you worked — across party lines on major items?

Yes. In fact, more than 90 percent of the bills I've signed into law were passed with more than just Republican votes.

We've worked together issues like improving foster care in our state and combating the addiction crisis. All 30 pieces of legislation that I signed out of the HOPE (Heroin, Opiate, Prevention and Education) agenda were passed with bipartisan support.

When Obamacare premiums went up 44 percent and Washington failed to act, we put together a bipartisan Health Care Stability Plan. As a result, premiums will go down by more than 4 percent in January — and down by 10 percent from where they were headed — a premium savings of almost $1,000.

After the recall election, Tonette and I invited all lawmakers (from both parties) and their families and staff over a brats, burgers and beer. We'll do more of that after the election to renew our common bonds.