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Governor Candidate Mahlon Mitchell Promises More Road Funding

Democrat Seeks To Solidify Support From Organized Labor

Mahlon Mitchell
Lacy Landre (CC BY-ND)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mahlon Mitchell is promising Wisconsin labor leaders he would seek fund more transportation projects by raising the state gas tax.

Mitchell met with labor officials Thursday at the Pewaukee offices of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139.

The state has delayed or canceled too many road projects because of a lack of revenue, Mitchell said, a problem he would address by allowing Wisconsin’s gas tax to go up by as much as the rate of inflation.

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“I understand how some elected officials want to say they’ve never raised a tax. But that to me, in my opinion — and I don’t know if you all agree with me — but in my opinion, that’s no way to run a government. You have to pay for essential services,” Mitchell said.

Gov. Scott Walker has blocked any gas tax increases, saying he wanted equal cuts elsewhere.

Mitchell is a firefighter in Madison, and president of the state firefighters union. He also told the labor leaders he’s concerned about Republican-led rollbacks of local prevailing wage laws for construction projects.

The 9,500-member operating engineers union has already endorsed Mitchell. Union President Terry McGowan praised another of Mitchell’s priorities: connecting all of Wisconsin to broadband high-speed internet.

“That’s work for all of us. Not only is it work for us, it also benefits people in rural areas of Wisconsin,” McGowan said.

The union backed Walker in 2010, but McGowan said the governor broke promises not to repeal prevailing wage laws, and in 2015, by signing a right-to-work bill that bans mandatory payment of union dues.

Mitchell was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the unsuccessful recall election against Walker in 2012.