Friday, October 31st, 2014

High Five for November: Walker and Burke

We're tracking Scott Walker and Mary Burke as the promises start to fly in the governor's race
We're tracking Scott Walker and Mary Burke as the promises start to fly in the governor's race

Online readers flocked to our November item giving Gov. Scott Walker a Pants on Fire for his claim on how much residents would save on property taxes.

The governor’s email newsletter to constituents contended that with a bill bringing $100 million in property tax relief, "the typical Wisconsin homeowner will save approximately $680 over four years."

Even after the bill, we found, the median property owner would see a rise in property taxes in Walker’s second two-year budget, after a cut in his first.

The bottom line, four-year trend under Walker is expected to be a $9 drop in the median tax bill.

Walker was using a comparison of that median bill under his policies to a hypothetical number based on the rate of increase before he took office. But typical homeowners will not see an actual savings on their tax bills of $680, as Walker strongly suggested.

The item received the most page views last month, putting it at the top of our November High Five.

In second place was our round-up of fact-checks old and new on claims in Walker’s new memoir, "Unintimidated." He drew a range of rulings from True to Pants on Fire.

Our tally of where Walker stands on keeping campaign promises ran third. We found that will a year to go in his term, Walker already has kept a solid majority of the key campaign promises he made in defeating Democrat Tom Barrett in 2010.

In fourth place was our Truth-O-Meter item on Walker’s statement that "Wisconsin ranks number two in economic growth" according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

We rated the claim Mostly False, noting the bank did not provide the information as a ranking and maintains it is not valid to make such state-to-state comparisons. What’s more, the number for each state is based in part on monthly employment numbers which Walker’s own administration has criticized as inaccurate.

Rounding out the High Five was our fact check of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s claim about Walker’s fiscal management.

We rated Half True her statement that Wisconsin has gone from a $700 million surplus to a $750 million deficit.

Her numbers check out, and she properly identifies a big swing in Walker’s budgeting, but there’s a problem because the two numbers aren’t easily compared, we found.

If you would like to comment on this item, you can do so on the Journal Sentinel’s web page.