October 30, 2014

Governor Walker outlines Ebola prevention plan

WRN file photo

WRN file photo

Governor Scott Walker is directing state leaders to implement emergency preparedness measures, aimed at protecting the public in the event the Ebola virus spreads to Wisconsin. The virus has only been reported in Texas so far, and the state says there have been no confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

Walker outlined a planned response Friday that includes having the State Health Officer work with the Wisconsin National Guard to train teams on the proper protocols and procedures for treating individuals infected with Ebola. The state will also partner with the Wisconsin Hospital Association and hospitals around Wisconsin to develop an advisory team that can help provide technical and medical expertise to the Department of Health Services.

Finally, Walker joined a growing list of state and federal officials who are calling on the U.S. government to ban commercial travel for West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. The ban would still allow for charter, military, and other flights that are deemed “medically necessary” to help fight the spread of Ebola.

In a statement, Walker said “We must balance our continued efforts to support medical systems and contain and eradicate the virus in West Africa with taking necessary steps to protect American citizens from the virus spreading further within our country.”

In addition to the steps outlined Friday, Walker said the state has a surveillance policy in place to monitor people who have traveled in Ebola-stricken countries.

Race for Wisconsin governor remains a dead heat

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

With less than three weeks to go before the election, the race for governor in Wisconsin remains a statistical dead heat between incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke.

The latest Marquette University Law School Poll released shows Walker and Burke tied among likely voters at 47-47. Walker led Burke 48-45 among registered voters, within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll also shows a split in the race for attorney general, with Republican Brad Schimel and Democrat Susan Happ splitting the vote at 42-42, with about 16 percent of voters still undecided on who they will vote for in the race.

The poll interviewed 1,004 registered voters, with 803 of those saying they are likely to vote on November 4. It was conducted October 9-12 and has a margin of error among registered voters of +/- 3.2 percent and +/- 3.5 percent among likely voters.

Governor Walker considers revamping the gas tax

(PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

(PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Governor Scott Walker floats the idea of replacing the traditional gas tax with a sales tax on gasoline and alternative fuels for vehicles, saying it could help stabilize the state transportation fund as it faces a $680 million shortfall in the next biennial budget.

Walker gave scant details on his plan during an editorial meeting with the Wisconsin State Journal on Monday, but elaborates a bit on Tuesday when meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board and reporters.

Walker points out fuel-efficient vehicles don’t generate enough revenue from the gas tax. “The gas tax is based on gallons of gas purchased,” he says. “As the gallons of gas go down, the gas tax collections go down, even though those vehicles put the same wear and tear – if not more – on the roads and infrastructure.”

Craig Thompson heads the Wisconsin Transportation Development Association. He says more information is needed on the proposal. “Well, without knowing all the details, it’s a little hard to say, but there are other states in the country who have looked at these sorts of things.”

Walker suggests his idea would be a more stable source of revenue, rather than relying on fuel usage. A bipartisan state transportation commission has recommended, among other things, an increase in the state gas tax and a higher driver’s license registration fee to help generate revenue to maintain the state’s roadways. Those ideas were rejected by Republicans.

Thompson says he needs more details before he can fully comprehend or comment on the governor’s proposal. “I think you have to give the governor credit for putting some ideas on the table. Many of the media have asked both candidates to do that and he’s started that conversation.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke doesn’t like the idea, which would make fuel taxes for motorists go up or down based on the fluctuation of prices at the pump, rather than hinging on the actual amount of gas pumped into the tank. “Pegging it and having it be a sales tax rather than on a gallon of gas actually subjects it to wide fluctuations because of the changes in prices of gas. So, I think it probably doesn’t work very well. I would be looking to address the real issue.”

Walker’s idea comes just three weeks before he faces Democrat Mary Burke in the general election November 4th.

Governor Walker won’t push right to work agenda

Governor Scott Walker talks to reporters (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Governor Scott Walker says, if elected to a second term, he will specifically tell lawmakers not to pursue right to work legislation, nor will he expand the Act-10 collective bargaining restrictions to fire fighters and police.

Walker says such a debate would “bring back the whole firestorm again,” referring the massive protests over Act 10 at the Capitol in 2011. “It’s not even just about whether I think the policy is good or bad, it’s about the tenor and the tone of the legislature and what it means ultimately to the state as a whole.”

AUDIOWalker says he won’t pursue right to work legislation, if elected to a second term, nor will he expand the Act-10 collective bargaining restrictions to fire fighters and police. Though, he doesn’t regret making the changes in 2011. :19

The governor says making any further changes to Act 10 “opens up a whole other can of worms.” He says, “And so, I’m saying it right here, I’m not gonna just quietly say it, I’m gonna say it to people who are listening in or watching, that’s my focal point, particularly when it comes to issues that would reinvigorate the kind of debate we had a few years ago.”

“It was tough,” Walker says, but stands by his signature legislation. His biggest regret is acting on it too quickly before adequately explaining it.

The governor spoke about several hot issues with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s editorial board on Tuesday.

Mary Burke: No new taxes

Mary Burke (Photo: WRN, file)

Mary Burke (Photo: WRN, file)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke says she will not raise taxes, if she wins the election in November. The Madison school board member wants to cut taxes for middle class families.

Burke was asked during a conference call whether she’d increase taxes on the wealthy to achieve that goal. “I’m not going to increase taxes on anyone.” Burke says she’s focused on growing the economy. “As the economy grows my focus will be on reducing taxes for working and middle class families.”

Meanwhile, Governor Walker’s office is touting the latest revenue numbers. An analysis from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows actual revenue collections for the first quarter of the current fiscal year are up $55.3 million above projections.

Walker is projecting a balanced state budget by the end of the biennium.