MADISON — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers said Thursday he wanted to raise income taxes on the wealthy in order to provide working families a break, feeding into attacks from Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his allies who are warning of tax hikes and economic failure under Evers.
Evers, at a news conference after a speech where he said the state's priorities are "out of whack," said he wants to keep tax increases to a minimum. But Evers also said he wanted taxes to be "shifted a little bit" to benefit working families and "anything is on the table."
"It will be our goal to keep taxes reasonable in the state of Wisconsin," he said. "We want to make sure working people in the state of Wisconsin get a break, but the bottom line is budgeting has always been about priorities. This is no different."
Evers also repeated that all options for road funding, including raising gas taxes, would be considered as part of a plan to bring Republicans and Democrats together. But he rejected the allegation from Walker that he would consider raising the gas tax as much as $1 per gallon, calling it "ridiculous."
"Who the hell would?" Evers said.
Walker has ruled out raising gas taxes without a corresponding tax cut elsewhere.
Evers also supports eliminating a manufacturing and agriculture tax credit Walker signed into law, noting 93 percent of the benefit goes to taxpayers who make more than $250,000 a year.
Walker, through a new television ad , and Republican state lawmakers at a news conference said higher taxes would hurt the state. They also called for Evers to release more details. He has not put forth a plan.
In the ad, his 20th of the campaign, Walker speaks directly to the camera and says: "With all of the attack ads these days, it's easy to forget" positives like lower property taxes, strong schools and that more people are working now than ever.
Walker then goes on to criticize Evers, saying he'll raise property, income and gas taxes and that this "would put our jobs at risk."
Rep. Mark Born, who is on the Legislature's budget committee, said Evers would take the state backward.
"Wisconsin will no longer be open for business under Tony Evers," Born said.
Fellow budget committee member, Sen. Tom Tiffany, said Evers should spell out exactly what taxes he plans to raise.
Evers stressed that he would prioritize Wisconsin-based businesses, not international companies like the Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group that could benefit from more than $4 billion in state and local tax breaks under a deal cut by Walker.
Evers, the state superintendent, also took swipes at Walker in his annual state of education speech, saying "Divisive solutions from Washington and Madison haven't made things better. These policies are failing us."
He proposed an education budget that would raise state aid to schools by 10 percent, a dramatic increase Evers said could be paid for without a property tax hike.
Walker has cut Wisconsin's taxes by about $8 billion since 2011. He is calling for about $200 million in tax breaks in the next state budget, which the Legislature would consider if he is re-elected.
A poll this week showed Evers with a slight lead over Walker. The Nov. 6 election is less than seven weeks away.
Democrat Mandela Barnes says
President Trump wants to create 'a superior race'
MADISON, Wis. — The Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in Wisconsin suggested in a podcast interview that President Donald Trump's administration wants to create a "superior race."
The Wisconsin Republican Party said the candidate, Mandela Barnes, was comparing Trump to Nazis, an accusation Barnes strongly rejected Friday.
Barnes, running mate to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers, made the comment on the Millennial Politics podcast posted online Thursday. Barnes, a former state representative who is African-American, has been outspoken against Trump. At a candidate forum last week, Barnes said he wasn't interested in people who voted for Barack Obama and then switched to Trump, if they still support the president.
On the podcast, interviewer Jordan Valerie quizzed Barnes about the Trump administration's decision not to ask a question on the 2020 Census about a person's sexual orientation, but to inquire about their citizenship status.
"The Trump administration has shown that they have this over-willingness to make people feel less than human," Barnes said. "This is another way. It speaks to the same way they treat people at the border. It speaks to the whole concept of building a wall. It's like a race to create a superior race in many aspects."
Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Alec Zimmerman accused Barnes of comparing Trump to Nazis, an allegation Barnes called "grossly absurd and offensive."
"My point was and remains that the policies of the Trump administration have often been actively hostile towards minorities and have moved us backwards on the issues of race relations," Barnes said in a statement Friday. "With the type of divisive polices coming from Washington, states will have to work to ensure we treat everyone with respect and dignity. Our culture of acceptance is what makes Wisconsin special."
But Zimmerman, the Republican Party spokesman, said Barnes was "unhinged" and showing a "disregard for a majority of voters in Wisconsin."
Trump won Wisconsin by less than 23,000 votes in 2016. Democrats have been trying not to alienate independent voters who supported him, but who may now be disgruntled and would consider voting for Democrats this year.
The race for governor between Evers and Gov. Scott Walker is expected to be close, with independent voters most likely the ones who will determine the outcome. A Marquette University Law School poll out this week showed Evers up by 5 points, just beyond the survey's 4.4-point margin of error.
In the podcast interview, after suggesting the Trump administration was in "a race to create a superior race," Barnes said, "It can seem very extreme, but that is the direction we're headed. We have to do everything we that we can to stop it. I think a lot of that starts at the state level. State level resistance is necessary."
Valerie, the interviewer, complimented Barnes for his comment, saying, "I'm really glad to hear you say this is about, essentially about ethnic cleansing. We don't see politicians willing to admit that very often."
Barnes continued, "That's the thing. It doesn't just happen right away, right? These things just aren't so apparent, there's a buildup over time and you get to that place and the next thing you know we become the kind of state that we would be compelled to go to war with."