Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Let me rephrase that

Protesters demonstrated in the Capitol during Gov. Scott Walker's State of the State address on Jan. 22, 2014.
Protesters demonstrated in the Capitol during Gov. Scott Walker's State of the State address on Jan. 22, 2014.

In his annual State of the State address Jan. 22, 2014, Gov. Scott Walker made new claims about reducing property taxes to below 2010 levels (Mostly True) and, for the first time, freezing college tuition for two straight years (also Mostly True).

And the governor repeated several claims he has made in the past, generally hewing to the true side of the Truth-O-Meter.

But at least three times in the speech, Walker revised the way he stated claims that we had rated previously on the meter.

Here’s a look at what he said then, versus what he’s saying now.

1. Taxing

In an October 2013 e-newsletter, Walker declared:

"This week, I signed a bill bringing $100 million in property tax relief to Wisconsin’s families, farmers, seniors and small businesses. With this bill, the typical Wisconsin homeowner will save approximately $680 over four years."

That rated a Pants on Fire -- false and ridiculous.

The claim strongly suggested $680 in hard savings, but we found nothing to back up that number or anything close to it. You could only get to it using a rough hypothetical scenario based on some big assumptions. The newsletter didn't disclose that Walker's number was hypothetical, misleading the reader into thinking the median tax bill dropped by $680.

Walker made the $680 claim with more explanation in his State of the State remarks.

"During the 10 years before I took office, property taxes went up by 27 percent," he said. "If property taxes had continued to grow at the pace they did during Governor (Jim) Doyle’s final term in office, the typical homeowner would have paid $680 more by the end of this (Walker’s) term."

2. Polling

Walker told Politico In February 2012 that 94 percent of Wisconsin employers "think we’re heading in the right direction."

We rated his statement Half True, which on the Truth-O-Meter means partially accurate but leaving out important details or taking things out of context..

The percentage was correct, but it came from a small 2011 survey by one trade group, and amounted to a sample that doesn’t reflect the overall makeup of businesses in the state. Walker presented it without noting those important limitations.

In the State of the State, the governor attributed an updated figure to a survey, although he didn't indicate the survey's limitations.

He said: "In 2010, a mere 10 percent of the employers surveyed said that our state was headed in the right direction. In 2012, 93 percent said Wisconsin was heading in the right direction."

3. Ranking

In June 2013, Walker stated in a Milwaukee TV interview:

"Our ranking in terms of the best and worst states to do business in was 43 four years ago and we just moved up to 17 two weeks ago."

We rated his claim Half True.

The number was correct -- in one study of chief executive officer perceptions. But the governor cherry-picked the most favorable of three studies on his side and ignored studies showing much lower rankings, creating a misleading impression of dramatic improvement.

In his State of the State speech, Walker specifically cited the magazine survey, saying:

"Over the past two years, Wisconsin moved up 21 spots on Chief Executive magazine's ranking of the best and worst states for business."

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