As Governor, I promise to focus on solving problems, not picking fights. Every single person has value and if we are going to change the direction of our state, we must do it together.
It’s time we return Wisconsin to a place where we treat each other with respect and dignity, we stop pitting Wisconsinites against each other and we actually talk and listen to each other, not insult or demean our opponents.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my positions on the important issues facing our state. This is just the beginning though. I will need your ideas, support and help, and together we can get Wisconsin back on the right track.
Public Education in Wisconsin
As a former educator, principal, district administrator and now as Wisconsin’s State Superintendent of Schools, Tony has dedicated his life to helping our kids. Our public schools are the heart and soul of so many Wisconsin communities but they also are essential to sustainable, innovative and long-term economic growth and workforce development.
From “Divide and Conquer” with our educators to cutting over $1 billion from our schools, Scott Walker has not been a friend of public education. Since 2011, over 1 million Wisconsinites have voted to raise their own property taxes because Scott Walker and the Republican legislature have not adequately funded our public schools.
Tony believes what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our future.
As Governor, Tony will:
- Increase investments in early childhood education and quality childcare, which also includes helping Wisconsin families with skyrocketing childcare costs
- Increase funding for our public schools and restore respect and professionalism towards all our hardworking educators
- Increase investments in both our technical schools and UW System
- Support and reward research and innovation from student and faculty alike, and after graduation we must do everything we can to keep these young people in Wisconsin
- Allow Wisconsinites to refinance their student loans at a lower interest rate, just like a home mortgage
As a member of the Board of Regents, Tony has seen firsthand the damage Scott Walker has inflicted on higher education in Wisconsin. He’s cut more from our UW System than almost any other Governor in the country. When other states began reinvesting in higher education, Wisconsin chose not to and it’s resulted in fewer classes and quality educators for our kids. Our possibilities are only limited by our own willingness to take no for an answer – it’s time we look to the future.
Infrastructure and Transportation
As Governor, Tony will focus on solving problems, not picking fights. One of Tony’s first priorities will be to solve Wisconsin’s transportation crisis. Our road quality ranks 49th in the country; towns and villages are returning to gravel and we’re borrowing so much money that Tony’s three-year-old grandson will be paying for our roads when he’s grown-up. Our local roads have been so inadequately funded, five counties and 18 cities have passed vehicle fees and taxes since 2011 to help cover road maintenance costs because the state has fallen down on the job.
There are bipartisan long-term solutions for Wisconsin’s transportation system, however Scott Walker hasn’t shown the political will to get it done. Drawing a line in the sand is not leadership.
Not only do we need to improve Wisconsin’s roads, but we need to make strong investments in Wisconsin’s ports, airports and railways. A strong infrastructure is more than just patching potholes. This is key for successful economic development – both in terms of drawing new businesses to Wisconsin, expanding existing businesses in Wisconsin and creating good-paying Wisconsin jobs.
As Governor, Tony will:
- Work with both Democrats and Republicans alike to implement a sustainable, long-term fix for how we fund our roads
- Invest more in local road maintenance
- Increase funding for public transit
- Ensure our highways and bridges are no longer a liability, but an asset for bringing new industries and businesses to Wisconsin
- Repeal changes made to Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws that simply take money out of Wisconsin’s workers pockets
Too few people have access to affordable health insurance and the cost of healthcare in Wisconsin continues to be too high. Period.
There’s only one reason that folks in Minnesota pay half the price Wisconsinites do when purchasing health insurance through the state exchanges – Minnesota accepted the Medicaid expansion dollars and Wisconsin did not.
As Governor, Tony will:
- Take immediate action to accept the federal Medicaid expansion dollars which would insure thousands more Wisconsinites who are struggling to find affordable health insurance
- Do everything in his power to stabilize health insurance markets and bring down costs – including prescription drug prices
- Invest in preventive health programs, especially for Wisconsin women, that have been defunded over the last seven years. Having to drive four hours round-trip for a mammogram, simply isn’t acceptable.
- Extend protections for Wisconsinites with pre-existing health conditions. It is estimated that half of Wisconsinites have some kind of pre-existing health condition like cancer, diabetes, a heart condition, obesity or depression.
We cannot afford to return to the days where health insurance companies held all the power and could cut off patients who simply cost them too much money.
Protecting our Natural Resources
Wisconsin is at a dangerous crossroads. Our lands and natural resources are being auctioned off to the highest bidder, our lakes and streams are disappearing and our wetlands are being destroyed. Too often, our drinking water is unsafe making our kids sick. We must restore balance and commonsense to our natural resources management.
From our state parks to the Great Lakes to the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program – Scott Walker has stopped investing in the very things that make Wisconsin great. Enough is enough. It’s time we reinvest in our future. We can grow our economy and increase our national security by producing renewable energy here at home rather than buying our energy from foreign countries and hostile nations. We can create new jobs and boost existing industries in Wisconsin, like logging and small-scale agriculture, by increasing the innovation, sustainability and value of their products.
As Governor, Tony will:
- Make sure Wisconsin families have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe
- Ensure our kids learn the critical thinking skills to help them make informed, science-based decisions for our future
- Return Wisconsin’s rich legacy of conservation by restoring independence to the DNR, so decisions are based on facts and public input – not on catering to campaign donors, politicians and special interests
- Invest in our natural resources to create new outdoor recreation opportunities for hunters, snowmobilers and silent sports enthusiasts alike, while also protecting these resources for our future generations to use and enjoy
- Pledge Wisconsin’s support of the Paris Climate Change Accords
It’s time that we add statewide broadband to our long-term infrastructure plans. A recent study shows that Wisconsin ranked nearly dead last in average download internet speeds. High speed internet should be available in every single home and business in Wisconsin. It’s the interstate of the 21st century. Statewide broadband is simply another asset for bringing new industries to Wisconsin, keeping millennials in Wisconsin and reducing costs for existing Wisconsin businesses. As Governor, Tony will make the investments necessary to expand service statewide.
For over seven years, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has been a constant source of controversy, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Millions have been lost or unaccounted for, taxpayer-funded loans have been used to buy luxury cars and Scott Walker still hasn’t met his 250,000 jobs promise from 2010.
Despite over a billion dollars in tax breaks for big corporations with the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit (MAC), manufacturing jobs have decreased, manufacturing wages have gone down and western Wisconsin led the nation in farm bankruptcies in 2017. With MAC fully phased in, 11 multi-millionaires (making over $35 million a year) received $22 million in tax breaks and they didn’t have to create one single Wisconsin job. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work and neither do $4.5+ billion Hail Mary passes to foreign corporations like Foxconn.
As Governor, Tony will:
- Disband WEDC and return the majority of economic development dollars to local communities and regional organizations. We shouldn’t make businesses come to Madison to beg for help – we should work within our communities and local chambers of commerce to rebuild our main streets and grow our existing businesses.
- Ensure access to high speed broadband in every Wisconsin home and business
- Invest in our roads, bridges, ports and airports, which not only brings new businesses and industries to Wisconsin, but leads to more good paying Wisconsin jobs
- Increase our investment in education, includes starting kids off right with strong early childhood programs, fully funding well-rounded k-12 public schools and returning to the Wisconsin Idea that values higher education, research and a commitment to making our community a better place.
Advancing racial equity and increasing opportunities for children, families and communities of color across the state is imperative to Wisconsin’s healthy and sustainable future. Tony believes that building upon the strengths of these communities and the shared values of all Wisconsinites we can collectively address the existing disparities in poverty, unemployment, incarceration rates, graduation rates and infant mortality that have disproportionately impacted communities of color and in particular the African American community.
Facing the challenge of being the state with the worst ranking for black child well-being in the nation is one Tony is willing to take head on, unlike Gov. Walker who continues to ignore these realities as well as continue to pass punitive policies that hurt not help Wisconsin families rebuild and grow.
We have to invest in people, not prisons, to meet these challenges.
As State Superintendent, Tony has worked to make every child a graduate and address the racial disparities and inequities in our schools, but Wisconsin needs all its leaders committed to this work. We need to make investments in local neighborhoods and ensure government decision-makers, corporate leaders, and educators reflect the growing diversity of our state.
We must address the grievous problems in corrections system, expand alternatives to incarceration and reform the criminal justice system – especially for juveniles. We should empower local communities and ensure our workforce - from classroom educators to local law enforcement to health care providers - is more diverse and reflects our changing communities. Finally, we must reject the hateful rhetoric and division that’s consuming our country. Tony will use all resources at his disposal to ensure equality, opportunity, justice and fairness to all Wisconsinites.
As Governor, Tony will:
- Treat all Wisconsinites with respect and dignity, giving a seat at the table to voices that too often are unheard
- Reform the criminal justice system (see more below), including specialty courts, diversion programs and restorative justice strategies as alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders
- Make diverse appointments drawn from strong community leaders across Wisconsin to lead state agencies, fill judicial vacancies, and serve on boards and commissions
- Prioritize equity and local communities in state budget decisions
- Repeal controversial drug testing requirements and adopt health and welfare policies that improve quality of care and strengthen families, rather than punish them
Criminal Justice Reform
According to The Sentencing Project, African Americans are more than five times more likely than whites to be in imprisoned. However, here in Wisconsin, that ratio is doubled (10:1). From education to health care to criminal justice – bold reforms must be made.
The fact Wisconsin spends more on Corrections, than the entire UW System speaks volumes about our priorities as a state.
There are a number of policies that we as a state must change.
As Governor, Tony will support:
- Ending crimeless revocations
- Banning the box
- Eliminating mandatory minimums
- Ending the use of solitary confinement (especially with juveniles)
- Investing in drug courts, Treatment and Diversion (TAD) programs and restorative justice strategies
- Increased transparency, accountability and communication within policing
- Fixing our broken parole system which only contributes to our high incarceration levels while also keeping families apart
- Increasing access to affordable housing, employment with good wages, and other needed support for a successful re-entry for those who have completed their sentence
Over the last seven years, Scott Walker and the Republican legislature have chipped away at Wisconsin’s fair elections laws. They’ve changed our voting dates, kicked hundreds of thousands off our voting rolls, implemented Voter ID with no evidence of credible voter fraud, made intimidation at the polls easier and gerrymandered our legislative maps to secure their power.
We shouldn’t be making it harder for Wisconsinites to vote, we should be making it easier! Wisconsin should be following the lead of states like Oregon that have automatic voter registration for their residents. As Governor, Tony will work to make sure every single vote counts and increase opportunities for all Wisconsinites to participate in our democracy.
The health decisions that a woman makes should reside with her, her family and her physician – not the politicians who represent her. These are individual choices that we should trust women to make. While Wisconsin’s politicians think they know what’s best, there’s no question that Wisconsin women really know what’s best for themselves.
As Governor, Tony will:
- Trust women, not politicians, to make their own health care decisions
- Invest in life-saving preventive health programs that keep Wisconsin women healthy
- Reverse Governor Walker’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood and thus ensure that thousands of Wisconsin residents are still able to access important health services like breast and cervical cancer screenings, physical exams, birth control and STI testing
Tony believes that all Wisconsinites should be able to marry who they love – plain and simple. Even with our recent victories on this front, there are still important LGBTQ protections we need on the books here in Wisconsin to ensure fairness and equality for all. Our work is not done.
Tony is a strong ally who will continue to fight back against clandestine legislation that discriminates against LGBTQ people. He opposes attempts by the Legislature to outlaw local non-discrimination ordinances that protect people’s basic rights. He also has been a vocal opponent of the so-called “bathroom bills” and other attacks on LGBTQ youth.
It’s no secret Scott Walker has made his career by attacking Wisconsin’s workers time and time again. This ends in an Evers Administration. It’s time we started treating all Wisconsin workers – including our public employees – with respect and compassion.
Tony is committed to filling his appointments with people who actually have expertise and knowledge in their respective fields, not simply filling government with more political hacks who will rubberstamp his policies. We must give our workers a seat at the table - listening to their concerns and hearing their ideas. We can do this on day one and don’t need to pass a bill to treat Wisconsinites with the dignity they deserve.
Tony opposes Act 10, Right-to-Work and changes made by the GOP to Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws. He also would support repealing legislation that eliminates the opportunity for local communities to pass living wages and other pro-worker protection policies.
In 2014, voters in 13 Wisconsin counties and cities had the opportunity to vote on a referendum asking lawmakers to raise the minimum wage. Every one of the referendums passed including places like Wood County, where Scott Walker won with 57% of the vote and the minimum wage referendum passing with 56% of the vote.
Tony supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hour and indexing to inflation. However, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Tony also believes that this should be phased in over multiple years.
Tony believes it’s time for Wisconsin to join nearly 30 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana. As a cancer survivor himself, Tony is all too familiar with the side effects of a major illness that can make everyday tasks, like making your bed or even showering, a challenge.
This is an evolving issue. For many Wisconsinites, medical marijuana will alleviate chronic pain, which is why organizations like the American Legion support legalization because of the documented health benefits for our veterans. It’s no secret that Wisconsin, like red and blue states across the country, is battling an opioid and painkiller crisis that is killing thousands of Americans every year. The fact remains that States that have legalized medical marijuana have observed double digit decreases in both opioid abuse and overdose related hospitalizations.
Tony would support and sign medical marijuana legalization legislation. In regard to full legalization – Tony believes this is a decision that should reside with Wisconsin residents and would support a statewide referendum on the issue.
Tony is strongly in-favor of non-partisan redistricting reform. Politicians should not be picking their constituents, the people should be picking their politicians.
Campaign Finance Reform
From Waukesha to Osceola to Reedsburg, nearly 120 communities across Wisconsin have expressed their support for overturning the 2010 Citizen’s United court decision. Our elections should not be awarded to the highest bidder.
In 2015, Scott Walker and legislative Republicans overhauled Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws that resulted in them banning political corruption investigations, allowing for more cooperation between candidates and special interest groups, and doubling the amount of money candidates can accept.
It’s time we returned power to the people of Wisconsin. As Governor, Tony would support legislation overturning Citizens United and other commonsense campaign finance reform that would clean up Wisconsin’s elections.