Checking Scott Walker on "Meet the Press"

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker celebrating his re-election win on Nov. 4, 2014. The victory fueled talk of Walker as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. (AP photo)
Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker celebrating his re-election win on Nov. 4, 2014. The victory fueled talk of Walker as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. (AP photo)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, talked up even more as a potential Republican presidential candidate since his re-election win, spoke to a largely new audience when he appeared five days later on NBC’s "Meet the Press."

So, how did he do, truth-wise?

Here’s a look at things Walker said, based on a transcript from the Nov. 9, 2014 show, that we’ve previously fact-checked.

Job growth

  • "In the last year, we saw the best from September to September, the best private-sector job growth we've seen in more than a decade."

Walker made a more specific claim in October that we rated Mostly True. At that time, he said figures for September 2014’s job growth mark the "largest private-sector job creation we've had in the month of September in more than a decade." The September jobs report showed an increase of 8,400 jobs in Wisconsin, the best in the past 10 years for that month. That figure, however, is preliminary.

State budget

  • "That $1.8 billion (state budget shortfall) is based on a projection of no growth and no changes to the budget. That just doesn't happen."

We rated a narrower version of that claim as Mostly False -- Walker had said the shortfall "comes from an assumption based on zero growth. That just doesn’t happen."  

The $1.8 billion projection is based on zero growth in state revenues. But Walker’s main point was to make the zero-growth assumption seem unrealistic. Recent history, including one year under Walker himself, shows that negative or flat growth is not uncommon.

  • "We actually have the next budget starting with more than a half a billion dollars in surplus."

That’s False. Walker’s rosy number flies in the face of the official estimate that uses a long-established method used by members of both parties, and the governor’s budget office. As we noted, the state actually faces a nearly $1.8 billion deficit heading into the 2015-’17 budget.

Tax cuts

  • "We (lowered) taxes by $2 billion in property and income."

That’s True, based on solid estimates by Walker’s budget office and the state’s non-partisan fiscal bureau.

Medicaid expansion

  • The federal government has "already shorted states like Wisconsin, they shorted other states across the country" on Medicaid funding.

When Walker made a more precise claim on that topic -- that "federal government reneging" on Medicaid payments had caused Wisconsin about $240 million in extra costs -- we rated it False. We found that typical cost-sharing fluctuations, based mainly on a longstanding formula, explain the extra state burden -- not any reversal of course or pulling back on a commitment by Washington.

Public employee benefits

  • "We asked public employees "to pay just over 12 percent for their health insurance. The average family in our state's paying 20 percent to 25 percent."

We rated that Mostly True when Walker the claim in December 2013. We found that many, if not most, public employees are paying at or less than 12 percent and that Walker was right on the private-sector workers part of his claim.

  • "We have the only fully-funded pension system in the country because of our reforms and because of the reforms that were put in even before I took office."

As of January 2013, when we rated a similar claim by Walker, that was True. The figure was slightly below 100 percent, but so close that a respected research organization rounded it up. And no other plan covering general state employees could make that claim.

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