Reality Check

Reality Check: WEAC Ad On 47th District Assembly Race

WEAC Spent Nearly $2.5M In Pre-Election Campaigning

MADISON, Wis. - The statewide teachers union is spending plenty of money on election ads this year. But a WISC-TV analysis found that the Wisconsin Education Association Council's take on the candidates in the 47th Assembly district looks more at their parties and less at the individuals.

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"Think nothing new ever happens in Madison? Maybe it's because we send the same people there, like Keith Ripp," the ad says.

Republican Keith Ripp is a first-time candidate for Assembly, not the incumbent. He's running for a seat vacated by Republican Eugene Hahn, who held the seat for 18 years.

"He's supported by Assembly Republicans, the same ones who fought against expanding affordable health care," the ad says.

But the bills referenced in the ad need some explanation.

The first bill the ad refers to in footnotes was not an actual proposal for health care. The bill proposed in 2005 said that by 2008, legislators were bound to pass a plan that would assure 98 percent of Wisconsin residents had health care coverage. It was referred to committee, and the bill died there after Republicans refused to have a vote on the floor.

The second bill referenced in this section refers to the Healthy Wisconsin plan, which was included in the Senate's version of the state budget. Assembly Republicans opposed the $15 billion plan, instead offering tax deductions for health savings accounts in their own plan.

The ad also claims these same Republicans "opposed making oil companies pay their fair share in taxes."

The bills the ad talks about would have imposed a windfall profits tax on oil companies and created an income tax credit for home heating costs. But they also would have changed state corporate tax law. A provision called "combined reporting" included in the 2005 bill and the Senate's recent state budget would require large companies to include out-of-state income when they file Wisconsin taxes.

The state Fiscal Bureau estimated it could bring an additional $93 million to the state in revenue. Republicans opposing the measure called it an increased tax on business.

"Trish O'Neil is different. She'll focus on creating new jobs, ones that lead to alternative energy solutions," the ad says.

O'Neil is also a first-time candidate for Assembly, and she is supported by Assembly Democrats. Her Web site said she'd focus on alternative energy, but it doesn't offer any specific proposals.

The ad was paid for by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC. The state teachers union recently filed a campaign finance report, saying it has spent nearly $2.5 million in pre-election campaigning this year.

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