Op Ed

Will Democrat Gubernatorial Candidates Take On The Big Issues?

They all want to repeal Act 10. What they should do is deal with state's pressing issues.

By - Jun 1st, 2018 11:26 am
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DemocraticLogo" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

DemocraticLogo” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

So far, not many of the Democratic candidates for governor have dropped out of the race, so it’s looking to be a long, hot summer of politics on that side of the Aug. 14 primary ballot.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is taking a pass on a fourth run for governor. He certainly has plenty on his plate to get Milwaukee moving in positive directions. With Barrett out, the remaining sheer number of Democrats wanting to take a crack at Gov. Scott Walker testifies that they think a blue wave will become real this fall. The list of serious contenders is eight. They all see the two-term governor as vulnerable.

They are also emboldened by several lesser elections where the pendulum swung against the Republican Party under Trump.

In addition, they also have done basic math and know that a small percentage of the primary voters could be a winning percentage. Fund rising will drive out some of the eight, but the primary votes will still be split many ways. It’s a once in a lifetime shot at the gold ring.

Their voices are sounding the same on the issues. They all want to repeal and replace Walker’s signature Act 10, which stripped public employee unions of bargaining and organizing powers.

A Republican Assembly or Senate could prevent repeal from happening, but that won’t stop the Democrats from running on that platform. It will be a classic political battle in one of the most purple of states.

In their early statements, the Democratic wannabees have been ducking a major underlying reality as they attempt to return public employee benefit plans to where they were before Act 10. It is that government health costs were grossly under-managed, and they were busting the budgets of local government and school districts.

The latest Milliman actuarial calculations put the annual cost of health costs for a family of four in an employer plan at $28,166, up $1222 from 2017. That soaring burden screams out for innovative management, and cities and schools that have followed the reforms of private companies are bringing in high quality health plans at much lower totals.

Best practice in the private sector for a family plan has been running at less than $20,000.

Some of the candidates will see health care costs as a zero-sum game, proving they don’t understand that good management can produce good results without cost shifting. On-site primary care clinics at schools are just one example of better care at lower costs. There are many other avenues to better value.

Public employees were required to pick up 12% of health premiums. Their deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays are still very low.

Private employees on average pay about 25% of premiums. With high deductibles and co-insurance, they now pick up 44% of total health costs.

That’s a local, state and national economic crisis that faces both parties. So far, neither has come up with an answer. Without a solution to that economic crisis, the push to repeal Act 10 is an empty platform.

There are other major issues as well. Several of the Democratic candidates have proposed raising the gas tax to pay for more road construction. Gov. Walker has opposed any tax hike. That will be a useful debate, which is what campaigns should mostly be about.

Will this collection of candidates tackle the state’s other major issues? Will they tackle or duck crime and poverty in Milwaukee?

Will they tackle or duck the need to reorganize the University of Wisconsin System and its murky finances?

Will they be pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, or will they think the economy and citizen prosperity can improve if business is an adversary?

Will they be able to find collaborative ways to work with many parties to protect our natural resources, or will they revert to their prosecutorial instincts? The Great Lakes are hugely challenged, but they have been a non-issue.

Gov. Walker has been quiet about big ideas in his campaign. He’s playing it safe, running primarily on the state’s low unemployment rate. He will defend Act 10, a winning posture when he was recalled and in his run for a second term.

Let’s insist that he and his battalion of Democratic opponents deal with the other pressing Wisconsin issues.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

4 thoughts on “Op Ed: Will Democrat Gubernatorial Candidates Take On The Big Issues?”

  1. Terry says:

    The biggest issue is getting rid of Career Politician and life long Big Government moocher Scott Walker and republicans. We must vote these corrupt liars, schemers and charlatans out in November so we can return people’s voting rights back to them after Walker and republicans stole them via gerrymandering then get the republcan’s greasy out of state billionaire Dark Money and pay to play corruption out of the state for good.

    Dump Walker 2018!
    Free Wisconsin!

  2. Troll says:

    According to Wisconsin Department of Revenue Aprils tax collections are up 6% over 2017 for the year collections are up 4%. Kudos, to Wisconsin workers.

  3. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Because when Dems want to figure out which issues are relevant, they absolutely should heed the advice of a GOP business oligarch from West Bend.

    Nice try, John. The real issue is corruption and oligarchy in this state thay funnels resources and power to GOP donors and cronies, and a “divide and conquer” authoritarianism that is deteriorating democracy in this state.

    But Torinus is cool with that, so he doewnt bring it up. Oh, and Johnny- Medicare for all and/or giving Wisconsinites the ability to buy into Badgercare takes care of many if the cost issues you bring up, and covers more people in the process.

    But then that would cut into mediocre Johnny’s profits, and he doesn’t want that.

  4. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    We want to know who is going to fix MPS? All the leftie run it and all they want is: “More money, more teachers, smaller classes”, which we have given them since 1970 and things are worse.
    They keep doing the same things for 50 years and expect them to get better? Really stupid.
    The Dems run from MPS like the CLAP??. Only Tommy and Scott have tried to help the kids and families.
    Then who is going to fix the overdose deaths? By tolerating more recreational drug use which will push more overdose deaths, STD’s, Drug DUI’s and crime.
    I love to listen to the Potheads whine on this site as they certify the fact that Pothead’s brains are smaller. Potheads, addicts, drunks cause most of the trouble in society

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