Reality Check

Reality Check: Ad Attacks Clark Over 2009 State Budget Vote

Clark Challenging Republican Sen. Olsen In Recall Election

MADISON, Wis. - A third-party group is slamming Rep. Fred Clark's vote on the 2009 state budget, but it leaves out some important details.

In Wisconsin's 14th Senate district, incumbent Republican state Sen. Luther Olsen is being challenged by Clark, D-Baraboo, in a recall election.

"Rep. Fred Clark says he'll fight for our kids' education, so why did he vote to cut school aid by nearly $300 million?" the ad asks.

WISC-TV found this claim to be true. Clark voted for the budget written and passed by a Democratic governor and a Democratic-controlled legislature. That budget cut school aid by $294 million.

But when compared with this year's budget, the cut was modest, WISC-TV reported. The 2011-13 state budget, passed by Republicans and supported by Olsen, cut school aid nearly $800 million. Clark voted against that budget.

"Clark says he'll fight for our seniors but voted to cut SeniorCare and cut health care, too," the ad says.

WISC-TV found this claim needs clarification.

SeniorCare, the state's prescription drug program, was cut in the state budget by some $25.6 million. But they weren't cuts that had a direct impact on seniors or changed any eligibility or benefits for those in the program, although they did lower rates paid to pharmacies that fill prescriptions.

The state re-estimated costs for the program, which went down in that biennium so it didn't need as much money allocated. And the Legislature directed the Department of Health Services to find additional administrative efficiencies. Overall, the 2009 budget cut medical assistance programs by some $600 million.

"Clark voted for $37 million in pork barrel projects, including a $5 million scoreboard for the Milwaukee Bucks," the ad says.

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. It's true the state budget in 2009 did include a $5 million grant to the Bradley Center to complete its scoreboard. In the bill, it said the Legislature finds that "sports and entertainment facilities encourage economic development and tourism." There were other projects, too, such as $500,000 to help complete the Oshkosh Opera House and $250,000 to help build the new Madison Children's Museum. None of these earmarks specifically benefitted Clark's district.

The group running this ad, Club for Growth Wisconsin, is a conservative organization located in Sun Prairie that said it's part of a national network. The group's website shows support for Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget and the Republican senators being recalled.

Wednesday on "News 3 at 6," WISC-TV will have a "Reality Check" on an ad against Olsen.

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