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Reality Check: Doyle's First Campaign Ad

Published On: Jul 17 2006 01:54:42 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 21 2006 02:27:47 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

In a blueprint for re-election, Gov. Jim Doyle released his first campaign TV commercial. It features several supporters praising Doyle's record.

The ad covers nine fiscal and social policy areas. A WISC-TV analysis found some claims need clarification.

In the ad, Doyle is credited with cleaning up messy state finances; one voter said Doyle, "Closed the biggest deficit ever and balanced the budget."

Doyle faced a $3.2 billion state budget deficit; the ad correctly identifies that as a record. Yet, Doyle takes credit for balancing the budget. By Wisconsin law, he can't run deficits like the federal government. Plus, in part, he's pushed the problem to the next budget.

The state faces a $1.5 billion dollar hole in the next two-year fiscal plan, which will be hammered out after the election.

The ad goes on to praise Doyle for signing "one of the toughest" sex predator laws in the nation "to protect our kids."

But it doesn't mention that Doyle signed two bills introduced and sponsored by Republicans. The legislation toughens penalties and started GPS monitoring of certain sex offenders. Neither idea came from the governor.

"He [Doyle] doubled financial aid for college," a supporter said in the ad. Again, the ad leaves out the full story. Tuition has increased more than 30 percent in the last four years. At UW-Madison, it's now $6,000 a year.

Nathan and Pat Johnson talked about their property tax bill decrease in 2005 in the commercial. But, the ad left out an analysis by the Doyle administration, which showed the average bill increased by $23. However, that increase is one of the lowest in the past decade.

Also in the ad, Erica Gottschalk told TV viewers Doyle is "requiring" a third year of high school math and science. Yet, on the screen, it said it's only been "proposed." In fact, Doyle first floated the idea in his 2005 State of the State address. But, it was never in his budget and a separate piece of legislation this session never got a vote and didn't reach the governor's desk.

On taxes, another supporter said the governor kept his promise not to raise taxes. WISC-TV found if you only look at sales, income and corporate taxes, the statement is true. But, property taxes are up and some fees have been raised to fill budget holes.

The ad also gives Doyle credit for saving SeniorCare for 100,000 seniors. The ad left out how the program could be cut by next summer if the federal Department of Health and Human Services doesn't give Wisconsin a waiver extension.

And WISC-TV found this next claim "needs clarification":

"He [Doyle] stopped extreme lawmakers from making stem cell research illegal and raised millions so scientists can one day find a cure for my daughter's diabetes," said Jody Montgomery.

Doyle's campaign staff cite his veto of Assembly Bill 499. It would have banned all human cloning. That part of the bill is almost universally agreed on. But, it would have also banned "therapeutic" cloning. It is one technique used by researchers looking for tomorrow's cures.

WISC-TV found the ad makes people believe the bill would have stopped stem cell work entirely and that's not true.

The ad is running in Milwaukee, Green Bay, La Crosse and Wausau media markets. Campaign aides say it'll start running in Madison within the next two weeks.

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