By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker is hearkening back to a children’s show that was popular when he was in elementary school with a campaign ad Tuesday blasting Democratic challenger Tony Evers over taxes.
Meanwhile, Evers releaesd his own new ad saying Walker can’t be trusted on education because he reduced school spending in his first budget by nearly $800 million. Walker in this campaign has tried to cast himself as “the education governor,” pointing to more recent increases in K-12 school funding, a six-year tuition freeze at the University of Wisconsin and other measures.
The dueling ads come six weeks before the election on Nov. 6 in the race, which polls show is tight. Evers had a slight lead over Walker last week in a Marquette University Law School poll, which came after two earlier polls had suggested the race was about even.
Much of the fight in recent days has been about Evers’ willingness to raise income taxes on the wealthy to provide tax breaks for middle-class families. He also said he’s open to raising the gas tax to help pay for road projects and improvements that Evers argues have been neglected under Walker.
Evers has not released tax or roads plans, but said last week that he wanted taxes to be “reasonable” but would shift them “a little bit” to benefit working families. He said “anything is on the table.”
Walker and Evers also got into a Twitter battle on Monday over taxes, starting with Walker tweeting : “When you hear a bureaucrat saying tax increases are going to be ‘reasonable,’ run for cover.”
Evers responded with his own series of attacks against Walker, including : “When you see a politician who cut $800 million from our schools say he’s a pro-education governor, run for cover.”
Walker and Republicans pounced on Evers’ willingness to raise taxes, branding him “Tony the Taxer,” rekindling a nickname that was given to former Democratic Gov. Tony Earl when he ran for re-election in 1986. He was defeated by Tommy Thompson, a Republican.
The new Walker ad goes back even further, mimicking a skit from the PBS show “The Electric Company” that ran from 1971 to 1977. The Walker ad features the silhouettes of two people sounding out the words “property,” ”income” and “gas” to argue they will all go up under Evers.
Evers, the state superintendent, has proposed a 10 percent increase in school aid, which he argues can be achieved without raising property taxes. He has been open to raising income and gas taxes, but he’s also talked about lowering other taxes to give working-class families a break.
Walker on Monday, in the face of criticism that he hasn’t done enough to improve road conditions as governor, said he would increase spending on county roads by $57 million in the next state budget. That would be a 50 percent increase that would increase the state’s contribution to counties from $111 million to $168 million.