Scott Walker, trying to stand out in the crowd

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (far right) and other Republican candidates for president gathered for a forum in Manchester, N.H., on Aug. 3, 2015, three days before the first GOP debate. (AP photo)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (far right) and other Republican candidates for president gathered for a forum in Manchester, N.H., on Aug. 3, 2015, three days before the first GOP debate. (AP photo)

If Gov. Scott Walker sticks to his script, expect to hear this talking point early in the first Republican presidential debate: I’m a fighter, and a winner.

To distinguish himself, the Wisconsin governor casts his fellow GOP contenders into one of two groups: Those who fight important fights but don’t win them. And those who win elections, but don’t take on big fights.

We haven’t weighed in on that claim, which is largely opinion.

But we have looked at many other Walker talking points.

Ahead of the Aug. 6, 2015 debate in Cleveland -- the first such matchup of GOP hopefuls for the White House -- here is a look at seven of them:

1. Inherited $3.6 billion deficit, turned it into surplus.

Walker says he inherited a $3.6 billion state budget deficit and turned it into a surplus. That’s a bit of a revision of a claim he made in 2013 in his memoir, "Unintimidated," when he said he turned the deficit into a $500 million surplus. We rated that claim Half True.

We found Walker did face a projected shortfall of $3.6 billion when he put forward his first budget, for 2011-’13. But the projected surplus as he approached his second budget, for 2013-’15, was $177 million, not $500 million.

2. Cut taxes by $2 billion.

Walker says he cut taxes by $2 billion. We rated that True back in March 2014. He had already reached the $2 billion at that point, primarily through a series of reductions in income taxes and property taxes.

3. Lower property taxes.

Walker says property taxes are lower than when he took office four years ago. We rated a similar claim Mostly True in July 2015.

At that time, Walker said the reductions were due to his actions. That is largely true, but they  were also due in part to declines in housing values.

4. Fully funded pensions.

Walker says Wisconsin’s pension fund for public employees is the only one in the country that is fully funded. When we checked that in January 2013, we rated his statement True.

We haven’t fact-checked the claim since then. But it’s worth noting that the key report we relied on now shows that South Dakota’s pension is also fully funded.

5. Higher graduation rates, reading scores.

When Walker said in April 2014 that high school graduation rates and third-grade reading scores had gone up since he became governor, we rated his claim Mostly True. We pointed out that part of the improvement could have been due to the actions of previous administrations.

6. ACT score ranking.

Sometimes Walker ties the improved graduation rates and reading scores to Act 10, his collective bargaining reform law from 2011. He does the same with a claim about ACT college-entrance exam scores.

In June 2015, when Walker gave credit to Act 10 for Wisconsin’s ranking on the ACT climbing to second in the nation, we rated his statement Mostly False.

Wisconsin's rank did move from third to second the year after the Act 10, but because Iowa’s score slipped slightly. And there is no evidence that Act 10 affected the ranking.

7. Health care ranking.

One of Walker’s newer talking points is saying that since he took office, "Wisconsin now has the second-highest health care quality ranking in the country." We rated that Half True.

Walker cites a reputable ranking from a federal agency. But Wisconsin had always been ranked highly and, aside from a downward blip the year after he took office, had long been No. 1 or No. 2.

More on Scott Walker

For profiles and stories on Scott Walker and 2016 presidential politics, go to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Scott Walker page.