By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis. — Conservatives don’t want the world from Mary Burke. They just want the Democrat candidate for governor to pledge that she’ll live by a simple tax code, if you will.
“All I’m looking for Mary Burke to do is to make a promise that’s she’s not going to raise taxes,” said state Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield.
Burke doesn’t even have to say that she’d cut taxes beyond what the Republican-led Legislature has done during the past two and a half years, Kooyenga said.
Republicans, who held another news conference Thursday highlighting what they see as Burke’s fear of commitment on positions in the early going of her campaign, say they’d be happy with any sign of a stance.
In particular, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has blasted the former Trek Bicycle executive and current Madison Metropolitan School Board member for not taking definitive positions on some of the more important issues, such as collective bargaining reform and tax policy.
The GOP characterizes Burke’s failure to provide specifics or commitments as the “no promises” campaign.
Party officials said Thursday they want to know whether Burke would have supported the $650-million income tax cut signed by the Republican incumbent, Gov. Scott Walker, and shepherded through the Legislature by Kooyenga. And they want to know whether Burke, a state Commerce Department secretary in Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration, would promise not to raise taxes.
“As a key member, Burke helped develop the Doyle Administration budgets. The Doyle-Burke Administration hiked taxes on job creators and the middle-class so they could increase spending and raise the deficit by $3.6 billion,” the RPW said in a statement following the news conference. “Just last year, Burke voted to raise taxes on the Madison School Board by the maximum amount allowed by law.”
The Democrat did vote for a preliminary budget that would have increased the school district’s property tax levy by nearly 5 percent, amounting to about a $90 increase for the average Madison homeowner. The final budget relied on a smaller levy, and a smaller property tax increase. Burke voted for that, too.
Burke, once again, did not return calls from Wisconsin Reporter seeking comment.
In an Oct. 21 story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Burke balked on the question of tax increases, remaining “careful with her answers …, saying simply she wanted government to be accountable and live within its means.”
“I’d want to look at the totality. We collect revenue in a lot of different ways,” Burke told the newspaper. “I certainly wouldn’t look at raising (taxes), but I’d also want to look at it in context of our finances, our budgets …”
Republicans point out that Burke, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s seemingly anointed gubernatorial candidate, has issued the same vague statements when asked whether she would repeal Act 10, the Walker-led, public-sector collective bargaining reform law. And if so, how would she fill the estimated $2 billion in savings Act 10 has spurred.
In a recent interview with the Tomah Journal, Burke again criticized Act 10, saying the law left the state “divided and weakened.”
“As governor, I would have taken a different approach,” the candidate said, expressing a vague sentiment that she has turned on several occasions since she announced nearly a month ago that she was running for the state’s top political office. She makes no mention of what she would do about Act 10, at least according to the published article.
Kooyenga asserted that a look at the past gives a pretty good picture of what a Burke administration would look like. The certified public accountant-turned lawmaker remembers the frantic calls from businesses when majority Democrats and Doyle completed their push to enact combined reporting — taxing the profits of parent companies and costing Wisconsin business big. Kooyenga worked for an accounting firm when that deal went down.
“Businesses in Wisconsin want certainty,” the Republican said. “By (Burke) saying she is not going to support the initiatives we have laid out, by not making any promises, that is really creating a more of an uncertain business environment.”
Contact M.D. Kittle at [email protected]