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A Democratic gubernatorial candidate is calling for state lawmakers to be paid the same as first-year teachers.

State Superintendent Tony Evers is also calling for 12-year term limits on state office holders and legislators, automatic voter registration when residents interact with state government, and a nonpartisan process for redrawing legislative boundaries, which he said are “aimed at reinvigorating elections and transforming government in Wisconsin.”

Many of those ideas have already been floated by other Democratic candidates for governor. Former party chairman Matt Flynn called for automatic voter registration and nonpartisan redistricting in December.

Former Wisconsin Democracy Campaign executive director Mike McCabe called for nonpartisan redistricting in January among other changes to government oversight and campaign finance laws. He announced last year he would not accept the full $147,000 salary of the governor if elected but instead be paid one dollar less than the average Wisconsin worker salary of about $45,000.

Evers’ proposal to cut legislator pay and tie it to teacher salaries is a new idea that flips the script from Gov. Scott Walker’s first year in office, when Republicans argued teacher benefits needed to be cut.

First-year teachers made about $37,000 in 2017, Evers noted. Legislators make almost $51,000. Evers spokeswoman Maggie Gau said his proposal would cut legislator salaries to align with what first-year teachers make, rather than raise teacher pay.

“I’m tired of hearing the same divide and conquer rhetoric from Scott Walker and the Republicans, and everywhere I go, I hear that Wisconsinites are tired of it too,” Evers said. “The elected officials of this state should be responsible for and responsive to the people of this state — not themselves or the special interests.”

Twenty years ago the average teacher in Wisconsin made $37,878. Adjusted for inflation, that would amount to about $60,000 today. Average teacher salaries are now about $51,000.

Walker’s campaign referred comment to the Republican Party of Wisconsin, which highlighted Evers’ praise for Walker’s 2017-19 education budget proposal and Evers’ recent use of a curse word in his state Democratic Party convention speech. “The only ‘transformation’ here is Tony Evers going from a supporter of Scott Walker’s ‘pro-kid’ budget to a mean-spirited candidate who promotes vulgarity and anger,” spokesman Alec Zimmerman said.

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to accurately reflect when Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike McCabe announced his proposal for a gubernatorial salary. 


(9) comments


I'm all for lowering state legislator's salary and other perks/benefits they receive. I think our public educators are underpaid for what is expected of them. However, our lawmakers need to find a better way to fund schools. The bulk of district budgets are paid by property owners via property taxes. There needs to be a more fair and balanced way to fund local school districts. It should not be bourne by just those who own property.

you think you know

That's rich, pun intended, considering he's been making $120,000 for the better part of the past decade.

How many other industries have a starting salary of $37k a year? How many other industries have an average salary of $51k a year?

For everyone who says teachers don't get paid enough, how much should they make in your opinion?


its the legislature that sets his salary. Doesn't matter the number of industries that pay this much or that much, good teachers are critically important for society, for the future. I would say teachers should be making at least 20% more than they do, especially starting salaries. With all the state requirements to be a teacher, they run up a lot of college debt to get certified.

you think you know

It's a standard 4 year degree. I think most even do the student teaching during those 4 years.


its a BA degree and many take five years to complete that degree. and then there are continuing ed requirements or specialized teaching degrees that take longer.

Grand Dad's Bluff

Got my vote


yes men for 100 plus years I see no change but love the idea


This should really be given serious consideration - our future is in the hands of our children - they deserve the very best teachers. Our legislators have been 'yes men' for corporate interests without giving serious consideration how corporate interests hurt everyone else.


Great idea Evers. Cut their pay and give them A-holes in Madison a drug test twice a year too. You got my vote!

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