MADISON, Wis. — A new ad from the Wisconsin chamber of commerce accuses Democratic candidate for governor Tony Evers of spending money on raises for his staff instead of teachers, even though the law does not allow Evers as state superintendent to redirect money earmarked for staff salaries for other purposes such as teacher raises.
Evers faces Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November election. Education is one of the key issues in the race.
The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce ad airing Wednesday references a Wisconsin Reporter story from 2014. That story reported that the Department of Public Instruction led by Evers gave nearly $400,000 in pay increases to workers there between 2012 and 2014.
The ad's narrator says, "That's almost 400 grand that went to bureaucrats, instead of teachers."
But Evers couldn't have given the money to teachers even if he had wanted to. Money for schools is a separately appropriated item from the state Legislature, just like salaries for education department workers.
WMC spokesman Nick Novak said Evers could have asked the Legislature to take money out of the budget for education department employees and instead give it to teachers, but he didn't. Evers has repeatedly asked the Republican-controlled Legislature for additional funding for schools, which could be used to pay teachers higher salaries, but has been rebuffed.
His campaign manager, Maggie Gau, said the latest ad was intended to distract from Walker's record as governor the past eight years.
"Once again, Scott Walker and his wealthy campaign donors are choosing misleading, slash-and-burn ads because they'd rather run a smear campaign than talk about Scott Walker's failing record on the real issues facing our state," she said.
Novak would not say where the ad was running. It is part of the group's $2.6 million ad buy scheduled to run through Sept. 7, based on a tally by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now that tracks advertising spending.