As election-day approaches, many eyes around the nation are focusing on Wisconsin.
With highly competitive midterm gubernatorial and senate races, many believe that Wisconsin is an important battleground state.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker are in a heated race to be the next governor of the great state of Wisconsin.
Recent polls have played a great deal in the momentum of the candidates’ campaigns.
Walker, who has a six-point lead in a recent New York Times projected election forecast and as much as an eleven-point lead in other polls, has drawn national attention for his campaign promises.
Among the more significant promises is his vow to block the proposed light rail system that will stretch through several counties including Madison and Milwaukee and eventually connect Chicago and Minneapolis.
Meanwhile Barrett, who is running on the premise of “Fighting for a Stronger Wisconsin” and has said that he will not bow down easily, has garnered a great deal of support and endorsement from noted Democratic leaders, including President Barack Obama and the First Lady.
When it comes down to the issue of transportation, according to his Web site, Barrett “understands that maintaining Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure must be a priority in order to get Wisconsin working.” He supports a balanced approach to transportation that invests in the state’s roads and other transportation initiatives that produce long-term economic growth.
Walker and Barrett also vastly differ on health care, which is a major concern for many in the Black community.
Walker is vehemently against federal healthcare reform. He believes in “market-driven solutions” to better control the cost of health care for Wisconsin residents, by eliminating the state tax on health savings accounts and creating greater transparency in health care purchasing.
Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, joined forces in a recent television ad, accusing Democratic candidate Tom Barrett of supporting a government takeover of healthcare.
While Barrett supports federal healthcare reform, he believes the state should control the implementation of healthcare to Wisconsinites.
By working with all healthcare players, he believes that state can maintain the commitment to provide quality healthcare to working and middle class families, while controlling costs to businesses and families. He would continue to support the BadgerCare and BadgerCare Plus health insurance programs for those who do not qualify for Medicaid benefits.
After a recent report rated Wisconsin lower than the national average for public school funding, education is another hot-button issue.
The “Is School Funding Fair: A National Report Card,” a 50-state evaluation of school funding by researchers at Rutgers University and the Education Law Center, gave Wisconsin a low “C” grade for ensuring that districts with a higher concentration of poor students receive the needed funds to operate additional programs and services.
Walker believes in focusing on fundamentals, reforming failing schools, as well as recruiting, retaining and rewarding great teachers. Additionally, he believes that capitalizing on efficiencies and offering parents more choices are two crucial components to improving Wisconsin’s education system.
According to his Web site, “Wisconsin can again be a leader in educational excellence by refocusing on success in the classroom.” He says that by eliminating outdated and unnecessary rules, schools will be able to set high standards and meet them.
As mayor, Barrett fought for reform to turnaround failing Milwaukee public schools. If chosen as the next governor, he said he would fight to reform schools throughout the state.
He believes in quality K-12 education for the state’s children; making sure that every child has access to superior schools that will prepare them for a brighter future.
Additionally, Barrett believes in high-quality and affordable higher education. “To get Wisconsin working again, we must make a commitment to our community colleges, technical schools, and four-year universities to educate our children and retrain our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow,” his campaign said.
Within the past few weeks, the Community Journal has featured “Shame, Shame” photos of local failed Black businesses. When area businesses fail, area residents lose jobs, thus adding to the already high unemployment rate for Milwaukee Black men and women.
Since launching his campaign, Walker has talked about the “Brown Bag Movement,” a concept in which he focuses on three points: don’t spend more than you have; smaller government is better government; and people create jobs not government.
He has outlined a plan to help the people of Wisconsin create 250,000 jobs. He believes that lowering taxes; eliminating red tape by reevaluating job regulations and permit application processing. Also a part of his job-creation plan: ending frivolous lawsuits that kill jobs; improving the education of tomorrow’s workforce; making healthcare affordable and investing in infrastructure.
Barrett has a comprehensive job creation plan that he says will improve Wisconsin’s business climate, encourage entrepreneurship at the heart of the new global economy, spur new business activity, jump-start needed construction, and develop the workforce talent to attract new businesses to our state quickly.
Under his plan, Barrett will apply targeted tax cuts to help private-sector job creation; jump start job creation with his “Jobs Now” initiative that will provide assistance and incentives that businesses need to create jobs like developing a pro-active rapid response team and creating a business-to-business connector.
Additionally under his plan, he will consolidate and organize economic development by use of an Office of Job Creation position that will be a part of his administration; overhaul and streamline the state’s entire economic development toolkit; and create a state venture capital fund.
True with any candidate, both Barrett and Walker come with pros and cons, which depend on voters’ stance on the issues.
Like the gubernatorial race, the contest for the U.S. Senate seat is highly contentious, in which incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold and businessman Ron Johnson are virtually neck-and-neck.
Next week, the MCJ will look at this race and these candidates, as well as give our endorsement for the Nov. 2 midterm election for governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. House of Representatives.