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Reality Check: Candidates Use Contradicting Facts In Governor's Debate

Published On: Sep 19 2006 09:59:10 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 20 2006 09:12:30 AM CDT

Those who watched Friday's gubernatorial debate saw two candidates with very different views -- and sometimes it seemed like they had very different facts.

At times in the debate, Gov. Jim Doyle and U.S. Rep. Mark Green argued over what should be simple facts, like whether the budget is balanced.

"The reality is we're not in balance and no honest observer believes that we are," Green said.

"The fact is we have balanced the budget. The congressman's just wrong when he tells you that we haven't," Doyle said.

So who is right? Unfortunately for voters, in some ways they are both right.

The reality is that Doyle is right when he said he has balanced the budget every year he has been in office. He inherited a $3.2 billion deficit.

Doyle is required by law to balance the budget -- the state can't run up a debt like the federal government.

But Green is right to point out that the state still has a roughly $1.5 billion hole leading into the next budget. The state has committed to spend more money than it has right now.

Doyle said a stronger economy will grow tax collections to fill that gap.

The candidates also couldn't agree on whether there are more or fewer jobs in Wisconsin under Doyle's watch.

"When I took office we were losing jobs and we have been gaining jobs in Wisconsin," Doyle said.

"The sad reality is we obviously are losing jobs," Green said.

Who's right? Again, it's a mixed bag.

According to the federal government, Wisconsin has gained 177,000 jobs since Doyle took office, and manufacturing jobs are up 7,600 while many other manufacturing states have lost jobs.

Also in Friday's debate, Green threw out a new claim about Doyle's budget maneuvers involving Lambeau Field.

"In fact, he even tried to raid money that was intended for Lambeau Field. Folks, where I come from those are fighting words," Green said.

A WISC-TV analysis found that this claim needs clarification.

In 2000, Brown County voters approved a sales tax hike to fund the renovation of Lambeau Field.

By law, 1.5 percent of the money went to the state Department of Revenue to administer the tax. It turns out, the state didn't need that much and Doyle tried to move the money, about $824,000, into the state's general fund to help fill the budget hole.

Republican lawmakers shifted the money back to the stadium fund to help pay off the renovation sooner.

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