Reality Check: Walker exaggerates Burke ties to Doyle

Reality Check: Walker exaggerates Burke ties to Doyle

A new ad in the governor’s race aims to tie Democratic candidate Mary Burke to her former boss, Gov. Jim Doyle, but it goes too far.

“When Jim Doyle was governor and Mary Burke was Commerce Secretary they gambled taxpayer money on dreadful policies,” the announcer says in the ad. “Like billions in middle class tax hikes on nursing home beds, gas, phones and garbage.”

News 3 finds this is misleading. Mary Burke was commerce secretary from February 2005 to November 2007. Only a couple of these things were passed or considered during Burke’s tenure. A tax increase on oil companies that some said would raise the gas tax didn’t pass in the 2007 budget, but a small fee increase on hauling garbage did.

But the larger tax increases discussed, including a hike in the nursing home bed tax, a larger increase in the garbage tax and a 75-cent-a-month fee on cellphone bills for police protection were passed in the 2009 budget — well after Burke left state government.

“State budgets that created billions in deficits and unemployment above the national average for the only time in 25 years,” the announcer says in the ad.

News 3 finds this is true. The Doyle budgets in 2005 and 2007 increased the state’s structural deficit by about a billion and a half dollars each. A review of Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that the statewide seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was above the national average in 2006 and 2007 for the first and only time in the last 25 years.

“Mary Burke came out saying ‘I support Governor Doyle’s positions entirely,'” the announcer says in the ad. “Wisconsin can’t afford to be dealt another bad hand by Mary Burke.”

News 3 finds it’s true that Burke said she supported Doyle’s positions in an interview with the Capital Times in 2005. But she wasn’t being asked about the budget; rather, it was a question about whether she was politically active.

But News 3 finds this last part needs clarification. Walker blames Burke for a loss of 133,000 jobs from 2006 to 2010, but again, she was only commerce secretary until 2007.

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