Democrats are good for business, a Democratic candidate for governor said Wednesday during a campaign stop in Tomah.
Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke said policies that encourage education and infrastructure investment are good for business and boost the state’s economy. She pointed to Minnesota, which has a lower unemployment rate than Wisconsin but didn’t implement many of the controversial policies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
“Not only has (Minnesota) gained back all the jobs it lost during the recession, but their per-capita incomes are higher than Wisconsin by $5,000,” Burke said. “I think that’s tied to education. We have to make sure we value education and make sure that it drives jobs.”
She criticized Act 10, a bill signed by Walker that stripped collective bargaining rights from public employees except for police and firefighters.
“Act 10 left our state divided and weakened,” Burke said. “As governor, I would have taken a different approach. I believe we could have firmly and fairly negotiated the changes needed to balance the budget but in a way that left our state strengthened and together.”
She added, “I believe the public employees in our state have the right to collectively bargain.”
Burke criticized Walker’s budget for increasing spending by $4.6 billion and still leaving a deficit. She said it was foolish for Wisconsin to opt out of expanded Medicaid funding, which she said would have brought $4 billion into the state.
She opposes a bill that would make it more difficult for local units of government to regulate sand mines.
“We have seen too many instances where politicians in Madison are telling local communities what they should and should not do,” she said. “Those decisions are best left in communities ... In this particular case, we need to balance job creation and economic creation not just with protection of our natural resources but also with safety and health issues.”
Walker, a Republican, is widely expected to seek re-election to a second term. He was elected in 2010 and survived a recall attempt in 2012.
Burke could be challenged in a Democratic primary by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma, whose district included the city of Tomah until 2011.
Vinehout said Thursday that a campaign for governor is still “doable.” Vinehout will travel the state and speak with people about the possibility of her getting into the race before making a decision early next year. She would have to give up her state Senate seat to make the run.