MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers continued his call Tuesday to lower taxes on working families, without saying what other taxes may go up or providing any details about his plan that’s drawing ridicule from Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker, in a new television ad, hearkened back to a children’s show that was popular when he was in elementary school to say if elected Evers would raise income, property and gas taxes. Evers hasn’t ruled out tax increases as he promises a more equitable tax structure that benefits the middle class.
“I want fair taxes and I believe those 860,000 families in the state of Wisconsin who are working families should get a tax cut,” Evers told reporters after a speech at the Milwaukee rotary.
The battle over where the candidates stand on taxes has dominated the race in recent days, six weeks before the Nov. 6 election. Evers had a slight lead over Walker in last week’s Marquette University Law School poll, which came after two earlier polls had the race about even.
Walker, in a fundraising email sent Tuesday, told his supporters that “the polls are right” and that means they will have to work harder to win.
Walker and Republicans pounced on Evers’ willingness to raise taxes, branding him “Tony the Taxer,” rekindling a nickname that was given to former Democratic Gov. Tony Earl when he ran for re-election in 1986. He was defeated by Republican Tommy Thompson.
The new Walker ad goes back even further, mimicking a skit from the PBS show “The Electric Company” that ran from 1971 to 1977. The Walker ad features the silhouettes of two people sounding out the words “property,” ″income” and “gas” to argue they will all go up under Evers.
Evers has not unveiled tax or roads plans, but he’s said “anything is on the table.”
When pressed for specifics Tuesday, Evers said, “It’s all about priorities, it always has been. That’s the way it’s worked for Republicans and Democrats over time.”
Evers has said he’s open to raising the gas tax to help pay for road construction projects and improvements that the Democrat argues have been neglected under Walker. His proposed education department budget would increase aid to schools by 10 percent, a move Evers argues can be done without raising property taxes.
Meanwhile, Evers unveiled his own new ad saying Walker can’t be trusted on education because he cut school funding in his first budget by nearly $800 million. Walker in this campaign has tried to cast himself as “the education governor,” pointing to more recent increases in K-12 school funding, a six-year tuition freeze at the University of Wisconsin and other measures.
Also on Tuesday, at the state AFL-CIO convention, Evers said that Wisconsin’s right to work law could be repealed and prevailing wage requirements that were struck down by Walker and the Republican Legislature could be restored. Those are wages paid to union workers for certain government jobs.
Evers did not promise repeal of the Act 10 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers and spurred the unsuccessful recall election against Walker in 2011. Evers signed the petition to recall Walker.
Evers told reporters that “over time, we may be able” to reverse Act 10. Walker and Republican support for the law had long been a Democratic rallying call, but it’s faded in recent years after Democrats pushing the issue lost elections.