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.