Mary’s Myths: What We Heard Last Week From Mary Burke

Madison — In the first debate last week with Governor Scott Walker, Mary Burke wasted no time with her false attacks on the Governor’s record. As Burke takes the stage tonight, here’s a breakdown of Mary’s Myths and the facts about Governor Walker’s success:

MARY’S MYTH: Wisconsin Is Dead Last In The Midwest.

FACT:  PolitiFact Rated Mary Burke’s Statement As False. She ignores the most recent 12-month performance — a common yardstick for economists — that says Wisconsin’s performance improved and was better than two other Midwest states. (James B. Nelson, “Mary Burke says Wisconsin is last in Midwest job growth under latest figures”, PolitiFact, 10/3/14)

  • Final Monthly Numbers Show Wisconsin Ranks 3rd In The Midwest In Private Sector Job Growth Over The Last Year.  (US BLS CES, July 2013 – July 2014)
  • Wisconsin Ranks 4th In The Midwest In Private Sector Jobs Over The Last Year Based On Preliminary Estimates. Seasonally adjusted, Wisconsin is ranked 23rd in the nation in private sector jobs created year-over-year in August and 4th in the Midwest creating 29,600 jobs. (US BLS CES, August 2013 to August 2014)
  • In Total Jobs, Wisconsin Ranks 2nd In The Midwest. Wisconsin created 45,500 total jobs over the year.  That is significant according to the federal government and ranks Wisconsin 16th in the nation in jobs created and 2nd in the Midwest. (US BLS CES, August 2013 – August 2014)
  • New Numbers From The Bureau Of Labor Statistics Show Wisconsin Created 8,400 New Private Sector Jobs In September. This is the most private sector jobs created in the month of September since 2003. (BLS, CES)

MARY’S MYTH: Real Income For Families Has Dropped About $3,000 In Four Years.

FACT: PolitiFact Rated Mary Burke’s Statement As Mostly False. The story Burke cites to back up this claim uses data beginning in 2009, effectively blaming Governor Walker for two of Governor Doyle’s years in office. Wisconsin’s average median household income from 2011-13 ranks 4th in the Midwest and 19th in the nation. Since Governor Walker took office, median household income has risen and per capita personal income has gone up.  (PolitiFact and U.S. Census, ACS)

In addition, the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows Wisconsin ranked 11th in the nation in personal income growth from Quarter 1 to Quarter 2 of 2014.  When Mary Burke was Commerce secretary, Wisconsin ranked 46th in the nation. (U.S. BEA)

MARY’S MYTH: When Mary Burke Was At Commerce There Were 50,000 More Jobs.

FACT: Mary Burke is blaming the job losses that occurred during the recession and the failed policies of the Doyle/Burke administration on Governor Walker. The facts are Wisconsin has created more than 110,000 jobs since Governor Walker took office and the difference in private jobs compared to the point Burke left Commerce will likely be gone by the end of this year.  (U.S. BLS CES and QCEW)

MARY’S MYTH: If Wisconsin’s Economy Had Grown At The National Average Since 2010, It Would $4 Billion Bigger Today.

FACT: Burke is referencing real GDP growth from 2010 to 2013. Wisconsin’s growth rate was better (4.5%) in that time than when Mary Burke was Commerce Secretary. In fact, the gap was larger when Burke was at Commerce. Wisconsin’s growth rate when she was at Commerce was 3.9% and the nation’s was 7.6%. Growth has been improving under Governor Walker. The dollar difference for Wisconsin to get to 7.6%, growth in Burke’s time at Commerce, would have been $9 billion; more than double the ‘gap’ she is citing.  (U.S. BEA, Real GDP)

MARY’S MYTH: Wisconsin Is Facing A $1.8 Billion Shortfall.

FACT: Wisconsin Is Estimated To Have A $535 Million Surplus In The 2015-17 State Budget. Using modest growth projections, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that the surplus for the 2015-17 state budget would be $535 million.  Not only will Wisconsin have a half billion dollar surplus, but Governor Walker has built a rainy day fund that is the largest in state history ($279 million) and the current general fund balance is more than a half billion dollars – the second highest level since 2000. (LFB, 2013-15 and 2015-17 General Fund, 9/18/14)

MARY’S MYTH: Mary Burke Will Hold The Line On Property Taxes.

FACT: On The Madison School Board, Burke Voted “To Approve a 4.95% Property Tax Increase.” “Politifact Wisconsin found that in June 2012 Burke joined the majority on the Madison school board in voting to approve a 4.95% property tax increase as part of a preliminary budget. That increase was later pared back to 1.75% in the final budget, also with Burke’s approval.” (Jason Stein, “Scott Walker For Mary Burke Stops Short Of Pledging No Tax Increase,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/21/13)

Eight Years Of Jim Doyle – Property Taxes Went Up 18 Percent On The Typical Homeowner. In the eight years of the Doyle administration, property taxes went up 18% on the typical homeowner, an increase of $446. ($2,517 to $2,963) (LFB Informational paper, 2013)

Three Years Of Mary Burke – Property Taxes Went Up 4.8 Percent on The Typical Homeowner. In the three years Mary Burke worked for Jim Doyle, property taxes went up $130 on the typical homeowner. ($2,706 to $2,836) (LFB Informational paper, 2013)

MARY’S MYTH: Governor Walker Doesn’t Support Equal Pay For Women.

FACT: This Claim Received A FALSE Rating From Politifact. Mary Burke claimed that the Governor left Wisconsin women without equal pay protections. (Dave Umhoefer, “Mary Burke says Scott Walker left Wisconsin women without equal pay protections”, PolitiFact, 4/13/14)

  • Pay Discrimination Is Illegal In Wisconsin. (Wisconsin State Statute: 111.321)

MARY’S MYTH: Governor Walker Has Made Record Cuts To Education.

FACT: Act 10 Savings Have More Than Made Up For The Any Reductions In Funding. Governor Walker’s reforms have saved taxpayers more than $3 billion and gave local governments the ability to be more efficient.  Teachers can now be hired and fired based on merit so the best and brightest are in the classroom.  School districts can innovate with merit pay plans and can now put children first instead of special interest unions.  (2011 Wisconsin Act 10)

  • The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance Has Shown That The Reductions In Aid That Were Needed To Balance The $3.6 Billion Deficit Have Been Made Up And More From Savings From Act 10. (Gauging Wisconsin’s 2013 Taxes, Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, November 2013)
  • NOTE: Wisconsin Spends More Than All But One Neighboring State And Is 21st In The Nation, Above The National Average. This also doesn’t include the $300 per pupil Walker added in the 2013 budget or the $100 added in the 2011 budget. (US Census Bureau 2012)

Governor Walker Has Increased Per Pupil Aid By By $300 With Total K-12 Public School Funding Increased By $400 Million. (2013 Wisconsin Acts 20 and 46)

  • NOTE: The Number Of Licensed School Staff (Teachers) Has Gone Up In The Last Two School Years. Student to teacher ratios have remained virtually flat at 13.2.  (WISDASH)
  • Since Governor Walker Took Office, Graduation Rates In Wisconsin Have Gone Up, Student Test Scores In Reading And Math Are Up, And ACT Scores Have Risen And Are The 2nd Best In The Nation.

MARY’S MYTH: Governor Walker Has Cut Funding For Technical Colleges.

FACT: Governor Walker Has Invested Heavily In The Wisconsin Technical College System And In His Most Recent Budget, Increased Funding By $5 Million. He also gave them flexibility over a $22 million in grants, so they can fund programs based on performance and where there is the most need. (2013 Wisconsin Act 20)

  • Governor Walker’s Blueprint For Prosperity Added An Additional $28 Million For Technical Colleges To Train 4,908 Workers In High-Demand Fields. (Scott Walker, “Blueprint for Prosperity: Governor Scott Walker Announces More Than $28 Million in Wisconsin Fast Forward Grants to State Technical Colleges”, Press Release, 7/17/14)
  • Act 10 Saved Technical Colleges Money So More Funds Are Available For Instruction.  (Reforms and Results)

WTCS President Monica Foy Praised The Governor’s Budget Proposal. “The investment and resource flexibility included in the Governor’s budget proposal, combined with college and System efficiency improvements, will enable us to serve more students, respond to more employers’ workforce needs and make an even greater contribution to Wisconsin’s economic recovery and long-term prosperity.” (Monica Foy, “Joint Finance Testimony on the 2013-15 State Budget,” Wisconsin Technical College System, 3/21/13)

MARY’S MYTH: Governor Walker Raised Taxes On The Poor.

FACT: Wisconsin Is One Of Only 25 States In The Nation To Offer A Earned Income Tax Credit And Governor Walker Maintained One Of The Most Generous Credits In The Nation. Families with three or more children receive the second most generous benefit of any state and families with two children receive a higher benefit than 37 other states. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “How much would a state earned income tax credit cost in fiscal year 2015?” 12/19/13)

Governor Walker Has Cut Taxes For The Middle Class And Those In The Lowest Income Tax Brackets. The income tax rate cut in the 2013 budget for a median family of four in 2013 was $173 and that rises to $230 in 2014.  That amounts to $2,243 over a decade in savings for the typical working family in Wisconsin. Governor Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity included $100 million in income tax cuts directed at the lowest income tax bracket. (Wisconsin Tax Reforms)

MARY’S MYTH: Minnesota’s Job Growth Exceeds Wisconsin’s Job Growth.

FACT: In The Latest Quarterly Jobs Report, Wisconsin Surpassed Minnesota In Both Private Job Growth And Job Creation. Minnesota saw its private job growth drop from 2.6% in 2011 to .8% in the latest QCEW report.  Wisconsin has held steady at 1.3%.  (BLS, QCEW report March 2013 – March 2014)

MARY’S MYTH: Governor Walker’s Policies Have Created A Difference With Minnesota In Wages Of $5,000.

FACT: The Wage Gap Dates Back To The 1960s. As PolitiFact pointed out, this wage gap dates back to the 1960s.  In fact, when Mary Burke was at Commerce the difference averaged $5,673.  (PolitiFact, 6/19/14)

  • NOTE: Wage Growth When Mary Burke Was At Commerce Ranked 45th In The Nation. (QCEW 2005-07)

MARY’S MYTH: Wisconsin Ranks Last In Personal Income Growth Under Walker.

FACT: Wisconsin Is Now 6th In The Midwest For Personal Income Growth. The latest report ranked 11th in the nation in personal income growth from Quarter 1 to Quarter 2 of 2014.  (U.S. BEA Q4 2010 – Q2 2014)

  • NOTE: When Mary Burke Led Commerce, Personal Income Growth Ranked 46th In The Nation. (U.S. BEA Q1 2005 – Q4 2007)