A pair of “Here & Now” political panelists — Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow and state Sen. Kelda Roys — offer their analysis of the Oct. 14 gubernatorial debate between Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers and Republican challenger Tim Michels, who discussed issues including crime, inflation and education a month before the 2022 election.
- Michels said an increase in crime in recent years can be attributed to calls for defunding police, while Evers said his administration has provided millions of dollars to law enforcement agencies. Farrow said these funding sources are limited, and he criticized Evers’ leadership on public safety issues.
- Farrow: “I think what you’re looking at here is the leadership of Tony Evers. He was talking that he’s given law enforcement over $100 million. The money he’s talking about is the federal CARES Act or ARPA money that’s out there. It’s not money from the state. It is short-term money; it’s not even a Band-Aid in this situation. It’s going to solve a very short-term issue. He hasn’t looked at long-term issues on how we’re going to solve this. He talked a little bit about it with shared revenue. The challenge that we have, though, is you look at his track record – when he came in, he talked about reducing the number of people in prison. When he came in, he talked about the parole program; he fired the chairman after one case. But how many cases after that did we still have individuals coming out? When you look at a leadership position, you want someone who tells people in the public, ‘All right, let’s just calm down and take a moment before we react.’ The first statement that he put out in the Kenosha riots was, ‘While we do not have all the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hand of individuals in law enforcement in our state or country.’ That’s not what you want to hear from your leader.”
- Michels called the state’s education system “broken,” and said parents should be more involved in their children’s education. Farrow agreed with this perspective and said more funding for public schools will not help students with low proficiency levels.
- Farrow: “I think what you heard in one of the questions was how are you going to pay for two parallel systems. We hear this all the time, that there are two systems. The voucher program and in the public schools. There aren’t two systems. There’s one. It’s the success of the students, and what we need to look at is how are we succeeding with our students? When the First Lady Jill Biden was here, they were at a school, and she was praising them for throwing so much money at schools — except the school she was at,their proficiency for math was zero. Their proficiency for English was 1. This is the challenge that we have. The governor continues to say we’ve got good systems. I think some of the public schools are very good schools. But we’ve got other ones that are failing, and throwing money at them isn’t the answer. We’ve got to find a way, and I think if you look at what Tim Michels is trying to do is say, ‘Let’s get the parents involved.’ We know there’s success with the voucher programs when we have the parents involved in the education system. Let’s make sure all parents are involved in their kids’ future.”
- When asked about inflation, Evers pointed towards his plans to lower taxes for the middle class, decrease gas prices by ending the state’s “minimum markup law” and provide child care tax credits. Roys touted his position and said Michels has refused to create a concrete plan to help the state.
- Roys: “Well, inflation is a global problem and it’s unfortunate that it’s being used as a political cudgel because that’s sort of divorced from how economics works, but I think there are concrete steps that Gov. Evers is proposing specifically to gas tax, doing a holiday, that’s something Michels has refused to commit to. He’s urged the Biden administration to suspend gas taxes and work to repeal the minimum markup for gas. So those are really concrete steps. On child care, Michels doesn’t even have a plan to address child care. Evers understands that the cost of child care is unaffordable and that’s hurting our workforce and our small businesses, and that’s why he’s proposed concrete tax credits to help caregivers and families.”
- Evers said he supported increasing public education funding, including for special education and mental health services. Roys agreed and said Wisconsin voters do not want taxpayer dollars sent to private schools.
- Roys: “It’s hard to imagine an issue that is more fundamental for Wisconsin voters than public education. We are the education state, and we cannot afford to keep sending our taxpayer dollars to private, unaccountable voucher schools which do not have to meet the same standards as public schools. The teachers that they hire do not have to meet the same standards as public school teachers. And unlike public schools, voucher schools don’t have to take all comers. So there’s a tremendous discrepancy. We have a huge vacuum from these public taxpayer dollars; they’re going to these private schools and Tim Michels wants to take that statewide. I don’t think Wisconsin voters think that defunding schools that are struggling – whether it’s rural schools with high transportation costs, whether it’s schools that have high special needs populations – that taking money away is going to help educate our kids.”
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