Barrett, Walker: Where They Stand on Key Issues in Recall Race
Here's a look at what the two gubernatorial candidates have said about top issues, including collective bargaining, education, jobs and more.
Before you head to the polls in Tuesday's gubernatorial recall election, take one last look at where Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, stand on the key issues facing Wisconsin.
The match that lit the fuse and sent this state into a seemingly never-ending political season that split Wisconsin in two, collective bargaining is what the recall used to be about.
In February 2011, Walker announced he would help tame and trim the state's $3.6 billion deficit by taking most collective bargaining rights away from public workers, including the state's teachers, he instantly became one of the most loved and hated men in the state.
Doing so made protests — and counter-protests — in Madison and across the state a regular occurrence. Many believe the recall initiative spawned from Walker's collective bargaining decision, one he has admitted he would have approached differently given the chance. But he stands by his decision to limit those rights in order to eliminate the state's debt.
Barrett says that as governor, he "will fight to restore full collective bargaining rights."
Three Democratic state senators who endorsed Barrett in the primary said he offered the "most realistic way" to restore collective bargaining and multiple strategies, including calling a special session of the Legislature and introducing a standlone bill.
Walker took a lot of heat when his budget-balancing measures hit public schools' pocketbooks in a big way, but this spring he announced his support for legislation designed to improve educational experiences for teachers, parents and students.
Three separate task forces that will be used as the foundation for the legislation are: Read to Lead, an initiative aimed at improving the rigor of and stress the importance of reading at a young age; Educator Effectiveness, which is aimed at fairly measuring teachers and principals; and School Accountability.
“Improving our schools, measuring student achieving growth, and increasing accountability and transparency in education will help our children succeed," Walker said in a news release on his state website.
Barrett said that during his time as mayor he has fought for reform to turn around failing schools, most notably a well-publicized attempt to put Milwaukee Public Schools under mayoral control.
Barrett said he supports State Superintendent Tony Evers' plan to fund Wisconsin schools.
During his time as mayor, Barrett launched the Youth Summer Jobs Program, which aims to place Milwaukee high school students in the workplace to give them real-world experience, according to his campaign website.
Job creation has moved to the forefront on the campaign trails for both Walker and Barrett.
Walker will likely fall well short of the 250,000 new jobs he campaigned on when running against Barrett in 2010 — Wisconsin's on pace for less than half that figure with Walker nearly one-and-half years into his four-year term.
But on recent stops throughout the state, the governor has been touting growth and believes once the recall is in the past, job creation will take off after employers put aside worries about the election.
Just days before the election, Walker said he expected the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to confirm 23,608 new jobs in Wisconsin in 2011, a little more than month after the same agency said Wisconsin shed 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and 2012.
Barrett highlights his work co-founding the M-7 regional economic development group as well as job growth in the Menomonee Valley.
According to his website, the Menomonee Valley now supports nearly 4,000 jobs, with new factories opened by Helios (solar panels) and Ingeteam (windmills). Barrett said his leadership "played an important role in transforming the Menomonee Valley from an industrial wasteland to a thriving commercial sector."
Barrett criticized Walker for focusing on an "ideological agenda" instead of jobs, and in a news release pointed to job numbers from the Bureau of Labor statistics that showed Wisconsin lost 21,400 jobs over a 12-month span.
Walker's controversial budget kept local municipal governments and school districts from raising the tax levy, and in a recall debate May 31, Walker claimed, "We’ve seen property taxes go down for the first time in 12 years on a median valued home."
Politifact Wisconsin said that statement — taken verbatim — was mostly true, though it had some built-in loopholes.
In April, Walker told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that under former Gov. Jim Doyle's budget, those same property tax bills would have gone up $700.
Barrett has criticized spending cuts, particularly to education, under Walker's budget and said he will undo those cuts.
He says his "principles of responsible budgeting and good stewardship of the people's tax dollars" helped Milwaukee city government weather the storms brought upon by the national economic crisis, according to his campaign website. He pointed to a $30 million cut in spending that helped balance the city's book and not saddle future generations with debt.
Walker is 100 percent pro-life, from conception to natural death, and not surprisingly, has been endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life and Pro-Life Wisconsin. A new state law signed by Walker in April led Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to halt administering abortion drugs to women in some cases because of fear of criminal prosecution, adding fuel to what critics have pegged as Walker's "war on women."
Barrett said that if elected, he will fight to protect women's reproductive rights, stand up for equal pay and encourage women-owned businesses, according to his campaign website.
In a recent Q&A with the Appleton Post Crescent, Walker said voters changed the state's "Constitution in 2006 to define marriage as being between one man and one woman" and that he will continue to uphold the Constitution.
Barrett said he supports marriage equality and opposes the gay marriage ban, according to the Associated Press.
Walker, a self-described avid hunter, is a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment, or the right to bear arms, and during his tenure, Wisconsin became the second to last state in the union to pass a conceal carry law.
Barrett said that despite a commercial with the ending line, "Don't let Tom Barrett recall your gun rights," he believes people have the constitutional right to own guns "and that the government does not have the right to take them away," according to his website.