Monday, October 20th, 2014

A look at our Walker and recall-related statements

The Wisconsin Democratic Party has launched an effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party has launched an effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The official launch Nov. 15, 2011 of the campaign to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ensures that voters will be inundated with claims about the actions of the first-term Republican governor.

Many of the claims -- by Walker, his allies and his opponents -- have already been vetted by PolitiFact Wisconsin. So we thought we’d take a look at ratings we’ve made on statements that have been central to the debate and that are likely to be repeated in the coming months:

Collective bargaining

When Walker said he never called teachers "thugs" and has said nothing but "great things" about them, we rated his statement Half True. There was no evidence he called teachers thugs. But we found Walker had said less than "great things" about the union that represents teachers and a "thuggery" comment he made left room for teachers to assume he was passing judgment on their protests at the Capitol.

We found it Mostly False when Walker said he asked public employee unions for concessions and they refused.

A statement by the conservative MacIver Institute that some state employees were paid $4 to bring their lunch to work was Mostly True. The payment -- among others that Walker has proposed to eliminate -- is made only under certain circumstances.

Jobs and unemployment

The State Tea Party Express’ claim that Walker led a recovery that created 30,000 new jobs, including 15,000 in manufacturing, was rated Half True. The numbers were essentially accurate, but the statement ignored the public sector side of the jobs equation and didn’t reflect job losses in recent months that undermined the idea of the state being in a "jobs recovery."

A claim by Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey that Walker killed 15,000 jobs earned a False because there wasn’t evidence that actions taken by Walker eliminated that many jobs.

Treatment of business

It’s True, as union leader Mahlon Mitchell -- a potential recall opponent -- claimed, that Walker proposed a bill (later signed into law) that allows businesses moving into Wisconsin to pay no income taxes for two years.

Budget deficit

Walker got a Pants on Fire for saying in a fund-raising letter that the state was broke and $3 billion in debt. The state was never $3 billion in debt and his own budget cured a $3.6 billion structural deficit. The campaign was using outdated information -- and rhetoric the governor’s office itself had abandoned.

Schools funding

Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, earned a Mostly Falsefor saying Walker’s budget "enacted the most drastic cuts" to public schools of any state in the nation.

And Al Sharpton got a Half True for saying that because of Walker’s budget, one school district stopped serving milk to students during snack time. Other factors were involved.

Voter photo ID

The Democratic Governors Association got Pants on Fire for saying Walker is denying Democrats the right to vote through the law that requires nearly all voters to present photo identification.

Concealed carry

The National Rifle Association’s claim that Wisconsin’s concealed carry permit rules demand more proof, regarding gun training, than other states do was Mostly True.

Finally, here is a link to the many statements we rated during the height of the battle over collective bargaining changes and passage of the state budget.

As the campaign unfolds, if you read or hear a statement that you think we should tackle, please email us at politifact@journalsentinel.com. If you can include details -- a link, or the date, time and place a statement was made -- all the better.