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Politifact Wisconsin's War on Scott Walker

by Jerry Bader

Really, it's the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's war on Scott Walker, using their Politi-fraud tool as their chief weapon. First they rated as mostly false Walker's statement that Wisconsin is ranked #2 in projected economic growth by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. This is absolutely true. However, the JS no longer considers this metric credible, even though they reported about it, front page above the fold, back in June when the same measure showed Wisconsin ranked #49. 

Now Politi-fraud is claiming Walker liedabout the average property tax relief being $680 over four years. At issue is whether Walker credited a single property tax relief measure with providing that amount of relief. Walker's office argues he never did:

Because of reforms and property tax controls, typical Wisconsin homeowners will save $680 over four years compared to the prior four-year trend.  This is a fact you may have heard from our office or from the Governor or other lawmakers excited about the results our reforms are producing for Wisconsin taxpayers.


Compared to what they would have paid in property taxes from 2011-2014, because of what we’ve done, a typical homeowner will pay $680 less in property taxes, that’s a $680 savings after a decade in which property taxes went up 27 percent.


This is a fact.  I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, facts are facts.  Pretty true.  Except when you’re Politifact. 


When you’re Politifact, why let facts get in the way of your bias?


Today, Politifact rated this fact to be “Pants on Fire.”


Politifact’s reasoning behind rating this particular fact to be “Pants on Fire” is because they feel news coverage, over which we have no control, and an e-update we sent were not clear enough that the total savings of $680 was due to not just this bill, but also to our reforms and property tax controls.


First, this is absolutely not true.  Our office and the Governor repeatedly made it clear how the $680 in savings was being calculated.  When the Governor stood up with Republican legislative leaders to announce the special session to pass the $100 million in property tax relief, he stood next to a 3-foot by 4-foot sign with a graph clearly outlining the savings (see the below and attached photo or check out the graph attached).  In addition, at that press conference, Governor Walker clearly articulates the source of the $680 savings.  You can view that press conference by clicking here.  Governor Walker outlines the comparison and the savings at3:10 and answers a question related to it at 17:10.



In the press release announcing the special session and in a press release urging Wisconsinites to contact their legislators in support of property tax relief, we repeat this fact: “Because of reforms and property tax controls, typical Wisconsin homeowners will save $680 over four years compared to the prior four-year trend.”  Click here and click here.


Second, just because Politifact is upset about how other news outlets cover facts does not make that fact untrue.


Politifact also whines that we tie the $680 savings to the $100 million property tax relief bill.


Of course, the bill is directly tied to the $680 in savings over four years.  To state the obvious, the bill gives an additional $100 million in property tax relief to increase the total savings to $680 over four years.  Without this additional investment in property tax relief, there would still be savings compared to the prior four-year trend, but not as much, so it is directly tied to the bill.  Without this bill, the savings would be different; again, so it is directly tied to the bill.


Bottom line: the difference between real facts and Politifacts seems to be Politifact’s agenda.


The good news for the typical homeowner in Wisconsin is they will still save that $680 on their property tax bill over the four years the Governor is in office.  Not only that, but their property tax bill will be lower in 2014 than it was when Governor Walker took office.  Because of our tough, but prudent, decisions, we are moving Wisconsin forward.



***One last note, Politifact’s readers do deserve the facts, so in the interest of transparency, you can find my entire correspondence with them on this issue below and all related attachments.


In an added bit of typical Politifact hypocrisy, they note in this piece, “A recipient of the governor’s email wrote us saying he had tried in vain to find fiscal estimates that back up Walker’s claim and asking us to investigate.”  As you’ll see from our correspondence below, when they first started looking into this fact, they quoted one of our press releases.  When that didn’t fit into the narrative they wanted to write, they went ahead and switched it up to our e-update.