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Angela Major 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018, at the Democratic Party of Rock County office in downtown Janesville.

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Walker fires shots at Evers, touts economy in Janesville


Gov. Scott Walker took shots at Democratic opponent Tony Evers on Tuesday morning in Janesville, calling Evers’ recent proposal to cut taxes a distraction.

“Tony Evers will raise taxes overall. There’s no doubt about it,” Walker said. “He should’ve introduced his plan on Halloween because he’s just masking the fact that his overall plan will raise taxes in this state.”

Walker appeared at Prent Corp. alongside Bryan Steil, the Republican in the 1st Congressional District race. He used the campaign stop to tout Wisconsin’s low unemployment rate and what he said was one of the highest rates of wage growth in the country.

Walker’s stop comes after Evers, the state’s schools superintendent, proposed Sunday a 10 percent income tax cut for individuals making about $100,000 a year.

It also comes after Walker proposed two-thirds funding for schools Monday alongside former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Evers offered the same school funding proposal in August.

Critics of Walker say wage growth has been stagnant despite low unemployment rates. A recent study by the Wisconsin Policy Forum found that 50.8 percent of renters in Walworth County are rent-burdened, while data from United Way show about 40,000 Walworth County residents either live in poverty or are employed but struggling financially.

Britt Cudaback, a spokeswoman for the Evers campaign, fired back at Walker in an email to The Gazette, writing that the governor has spent “eight years putting special interests and campaign donors first.

“Scott Walker thinks helping hardworking families is a stunt. It just goes to show how out of touch typical politician Walker has become,” Cudaback wrote.

Joseph Pregont, president and CEO of Prent, told the crowd of about 25 supporters and workers that Steil’s involvement in industry is a boon for job growth. Steil is general counsel at Charter NEX Films in Milton.

In a brief speech, Steil celebrated Walker’s nearly eight-year tenure as governor, which he said led to economic reforms that encourage job growth and higher wages. Steil has not said if he would support raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Instead, he told reporters Tuesday he would lower taxes and allow businesses to compete as a means to increase pay.

Steil also used the stage to rail against his opponent, Caledonia Democrat and ironworker Randy Bryce. Steil said Bryce’s health care proposal—presumably his support of Medicare for all—would double income and business taxes.

In an emailed response, Bryce campaign spokeswoman Julia Savel said Bryce supports providing affordable health care to working families.

“Meanwhile, Bryan Steil has still refused to call on Scott Walker to remove Wisconsin from the lawsuit that would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” Savel wrote. “It’s clear which candidate has the best interest of working families in mind.”

Walker’s stop underscores the ongoing clash between the candidates for governor. Walker has tried to position himself as a champion of low taxes and job growth while painting Evers as hungry to increase taxes.

While Evers hasn’t ruled out raising the gas tax, his campaign has denied any intention to increase taxes with its recent proposal and says Walker is just flexing his campaign muscle.

The Evers campaign said the main source of funding for the 10 percent income tax cut would come from capping tax credits to manufacturing and agriculture.

In September, Walker proposed increasing the funding the state gives counties for road projects to 30 percent. Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said the proposal would be welcome, but he said it comes after years of poor transportation funding.

Mercyhealth welcomes intern program for young people with disabilities


Cris Carrillo walked out of the Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center’s kitchen with a red Playmate lunchbox in hand and a hairnet on his head.

It was the end of 19-year-old Carrillo’s workday, part of which he spent prepping salads and desserts for the hospital cafeteria.

Carrillo is one of eight interns selected for the hospital’s first year as a Project SEARCH workplace partner.

Project SEARCH is a national program that provides work internships to high school seniors and recent high school graduates with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The nine-month program aims to give participants skills and confidence to participate independently in the workforce, said Kathy Harris, vice president of people and culture at Mercyhealth.

The program was developed in Cincinnati in 1996, according to its website.

It reached Wisconsin in 2008, Christopher Hagerup, deputy secretary for the state Department of Workforce Development, said at a media event Tuesday.

Since its Wisconsin debut, 630 interns have completed the program throughout the state, Hagerup said. Eighty-eight percent of Wisconsin’s interns found full-time work after the program.

Mercyhealth is the first workplace in Rock County to partner with the program, said Trish Reed, a hospital spokeswoman.

The hospital’s Project SEARCH committee has been planning for the program for two and a half years.

Interns split their days between classroom instruction and hands-on work in various departments throughout the hospital, including food service and the pharmacy, said Amy Kniffin, program instructor.

Each intern works side by side with a mentor partner, she said.

Hakim Salaam, chef manager at the hospital, said pairing interns with the right mentors who have strong leadership skills is key to the program’s success.

Kitchen interns can learn communications skills, how to work with others, safe food handling and sanitation, Salaam said.

Carrillo is a recent graduate of Beloit Turner High School.

His favorite part of the job is prepping cookies and spending time with co-workers. The hardest part of the job, he said, is learning to communicate and follow directions.

Carrillo said he hopes to eventually get a job as a paraprofessional helping other kids with disabilities.

Baldwin: Tax bill shows dysfunction of Washington


Sen. Tammy Baldwin tried to fire up Democratic activists at their headquarters in downtown Janesville on Tuesday.

State Rep. Deb Kolste, D-Janesville, did the same as she introduced Baldwin to about 40 campaign volunteers.

“Our lives and our livelihoods depend on this election,” Kolste said.

Baldwin focused on economic issues and did not mention that she faces a Republican opponent, Leah Vukmir, in the Nov. 6 elections.

Baldwin called last year’s federal tax bill, which gave overwhelming benefits to the most wealthy, a symptom of the dysfunction of Washington, D.C.

The bill’s benefits are not trickling down as proponents said they would, Baldwin said.

Asked for comment, the Vukmir campaign sent this: “The tax cuts helped middle-class Wisconsinites keep $1,600 of their own money. Wisconsinites deserve a senator who gets their day-to-day struggles like Leah Vukmir, who would vote to help them keep more of their hard-earned money.”

The Tax Policy Center analyzed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and found middle-income taxpayers would pay about $900 less in taxes for 2018, and people of lower incomes would save less.

The $1,600 figure is an estimate of the average tax savings in 2018, which includes all taxpayers.

Meanwhile, households making $733,000 and up would get an average tax cut of about $50,000, and those in the top 0.1 percent, making $3.4 million or more, get an average cut of about $190,000, the Tax Policy Center said.

However, the claim by many Democrats—including Baldwin on Tuesday—that the top 1 percent would get 83 percent of the bill’s benefits is not true in the earlier years, and would not be true until 2027, USA Today reported.

Baldwin said after her speech that she hopes the elections produce a Congress that can solve problems.

“Most of the issues that are so polarizing right now are partisan issues. We should be able to work together on that,” she said.

One of those issues is health care, she said, and she would like to make the Affordable Care Act more affordable.

Vukmir has called for the ACA—known to many as Obamacare—to be repealed and replaced.

Asked about Medicare-for-all, a proposal backed by many Democrats, Baldwin said she supports it, but: “All good ideas should be on the table right now. My long-term goal is that every American have access to affordable, quality insurance and health care.”

Baldwin urged the campaign volunteers to vote early so they could give their best efforts on Election Day.

“Get it out of the way. Who knows, I mean, it could be a snowstorm. I hope not, but there could be a snowstorm on Nov. 6,” she said, eliciting laughter from the volunteers.