BY EILEEN PERSIKE
Five of the Democratic candidates for governor addressed several topics at a forum in Minocqua Saturday. State Superintendent Tony Evers, former state Democratic Party leader Matt Flynn, former director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Mike McCabe, State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and State Rep. Dana Wachs were in attendance.
During her opening statement, Vinehout said her campaign puts people at the center of state policy.
“This is a very different vision that where we are today,” she stated. “The things I am talking about, (include) putting $200 billion into broadband expansion, free tuition to two-year colleges and technical schools.”
Running with the endorsement of former Gov. Tony Earl, Flynn said he is in the governor’s race because “he is not going to stand by and see democracy destroyed.”
“Wisconsin used to stand for clean water, clean government and high wages,” Flynn said. “Now it’s known for corrupt government, dirty water and low wages.”
Wachs told the audience he has been opposed to the Foxconn deal since it was introduced, adding that it “sends a message that the government is about corporate welfare, not about regular folks,” and shows the state “has had the money all along.”
“If we have $3 billion to give to some outfit from Taiwan, tell me what these cuts were that Gov. Walker did, why he took a billion dollars out of K-12, why he took $784 million out of the Universities,” Wachs continued. “This is a sham.”
Mike McCabe grew up on a dairy farm in Clark County, and said it’s places like that where Democrats must compete in order to win.
“I want to erase the words ‘working poor’ from our vocabulary,” McCabe said. “If you work you belong in the middle class and that means a living wage for everyone, healthcare for everyone, debt-free education and high-speed internet. This is the Wisconsin we can have.”
Evers said that though his background is in education, the governor’s race is about values.
“Values around education, infrastructure around the state of Wisconsin, making sure our natural resources are protected,” he said. “All these issues have been decimated over the past eight years by Scott Walker.”
On the topic of education, there was consensus on the subject of school funding and vouchers. Evers said he wants more accountability when it comes to vouchers, noting,
“We need to fund the public schools first. Period.”
Matt Flynn said the state needs a change of direction when it comes to budgeting for education.
“Scott Walker is an expert, where when he gets elected he’ll yank a billion dollars out of education, as he creeps closer to election, he puts something back in and then when he gets elected he yanks it out again.”
If a program works, keep it and fund it, is how McCabe said he would make decisions as governor.
“If it doesn’t work, get rid of it,” he continued. “By that standard, taxpayer subsidized private schooling should end. In 27 years, it has never delivered on its promises.”
“If you want to send your kids to private school, great, but the state shouldn’t pay for it,” Vinehout said, adding that voucher funding should be more transparent.
Wachs said he has authored a bill to provide such transparency, mandating that every tax bill “outline specifically how much money from their school district is going to unaccountable voucher schools. I think it’s unconstitutional and I’m going to put an end to the voucher program.
The candidates will compete in the Aug. 14 primary. The winner will face off against Gov. Walker in the fall General Election Nov. 6.