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Democratic candidates for governor differ on priorities

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — When listing what differentiates them from others seeking the Democrat’s nomination for governor, only one candidate mentioned wanting to raise more money for road projects.

Another said he would use a lawsuit, if elected, to kill current officials’ plan to provide Foxconn Technology Group with as much as $4.5 billion worth of state and local incentives in return for its commitment to build a $10 billion factory in southeast Wisconsin. Other than that, the eight candidates running for the Democratic nomination had little to say touching on public works and construction. The Associated Press recently asked each of the candidates to list three of their policy positions that they believe separate them from the field.

There was some overlap — more than one candidate listed spending more money on schools as a priority. But the Associated Press’s request elicited some meaningful distinctions, and even a little humor. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin — listing an unsolicited fourth difference — said he’s advocating for allowing all dogs in the state Capitol.

The winner of the primary election on Aug. 14 will face Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November.

Here is what the candidates said they would do if elected:

Tony Evers:

  • Bring Wisconsin’s school-funding formula in line with his proposal as state superintendent to increase public spending on schools and lessen pressure to raise local property taxes.
  • Involve Democrats and Republicans in finding a way to paying for roads and other transportation projects.
  • Establish a statewide early-childhood-education program to help close the achievement gap.


Matt Flynn:

  • Break the state’s contract with Foxconn Technology Group calling for the construction of a manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin. Flynn, a lawyer, would use a lawsuit, if necessary, to end the deal, which puts taxpayers on the hook for as much as $4.5 billion worth of state and local incentives if Foxconn spends $10 billion and hires 13,000 people.
  • Raise teacher salaries, rather than lower the salaries of state lawmakers to the level of the average teacher’s pay, as Evers has proposed.
  • Flynn, 70, a former state party chairman and candidate for Congress, also argues that he is the most experienced politician in the field.


Mike McCabe:

  • The cornerstone of McCabe’s campaign is attempting to remove the influence of money in politics. He’s put forward a variety of proposals to achieve that goal and has also refused to accept donations over $200.
  • Commit Wisconsin to a clean-energy plan to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 or sooner, a 50 percent reduction in energy use by 2030 or sooner and zero climate-disrupting air-pollution emissions by 2050 or sooner.
  • Establish a Universal Basic Income test program for vulnerable workers. Under this $9 million plan, 500 people would receive $1,000 a month and another 500 would get $500 a month. The outcomes for people in each group would then be compared with each other. The experiment would also look at how people in the two groups fare compared with other people in the state.


Mahlon Mitchell:

  • Create a Wisconsin Compact in which college students commit to volunteering in exchange for a free education at the state’s two-year and technical colleges. Another part of his plan to combat student-loan debt is to set up a new state agency to help refinance loans with the state at a lower interest rate.
  • Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Push for a constitutional amendment — which the Legislature would have to pass twice and voters would have to approve — requiring the state to pay two-thirds of all public K-12 education costs.


Josh Pade:

  • Set up an entrepreneurship initiative to reduce barriers for new, homegrown businesses; lower taxes for the middle class; modernize the state’s infrastructure; and close the skill gap.
  • Establish a task force to close the achievement gap and allow college students to reduce their student-loan debt through public-service credit hours.
  • Make Wisconsin run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.


Kelda Roys:

  • Make early-childhood schooling universally available statewide.
  • Ensure there is universal paid family and medical leave, including up to 12 weeks for every newborn or adopted child.
  • Reduce student-loan debt by sending more taxpayer funding to public universities to hold down tuition, make two-year technical colleges and universities free, regulate “for-profit schemes” that increase student debt and make it possible to refinance student loans like those for mortgages and cars. She also calls for expanding student loan forgiveness programs.


Paul Soglin:

  • Raise taxes to pay for public schools.
  • Establish a network of health clinics paid for in part by Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.
  • Include a Republican in his cabinet because Soglin said he believes “you need bi-partisan support and collaboration to govern effectively and get things done for the people you serve.”


Kathleen Vinehout:

  • Make the state’s BadgerCare health insurance, currently available only to poor, elderly and disabled people, open to all.
  • Rewrite the school-aid formula to provide more money to public schools by taking money away from private schools in the voucher program and cutting corporate tax breaks.
  • Vinehout did not identify a third area.

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