Newsmakers, October 13, 2016

Air Date:
Heard On Newsmakers
Steve Doyle and Julian Bradley
Steve Doyle and Julian Bradley

Hope Kirwan/WPR

94th Assembly District Debate-

The candidates for Wisconsin’s 94th Assembly District agree funding of K-12 public education and improving roads are the two top issues for the district.

But they can’t agree to the solution to those problems.

The district encompasses most of La Crosse County except for the city of La Crosse and includes the communities of Onalaska, Holmen, West Salem and Bangor.

State Rep. Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska) has represented the district since he was first elected in 2010. He’s an attorney and a long-time La Crosse County board member.

His challenger Julian Bradley (R-Holmen) is a long-time Republican Party activist who is vice-chair of the 3rd Congressional District Republican Party. In 2014, he lost a statewide Secretary of State race.

Both candidates agree public schools are great in their district and need more funding from the state, although neither candidate offered specifics about a public school funding plan during a recent debate on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Newsmakers.

Where they disagree is on the need for the state’s private school voucher plan to be statewide as it has become in the last couple of years.

“I wish we didn’t need vouchers,” Bradley said. “But I also believe if its fair for one part of the state, its gotta be fair for everybody. Its about choice.

Rep. Doyle argued there are no failing schools in the 94th Assembly District, and in the last state budget, $200 million was taken out of public education to expand the private voucher system statewide. He said public school choice has been an option for years in Wisconsin.

“If I happen to live in a school district that wasn’t successful and the one nearby or next door was more successful or more to my needs, I would have had the opportunity to send my kids to that one,” said Doyle. “We have choice in Wisconsin, we don’t need vouchers in Wisconsin, outside of Milwaukee and Racine.”

Transportation funding is an issue in political races all over the state, as the state’s roads have been ranked among the worst in the country.

Rep. Doyle has said all options for increasing road maintenance budgets at the state and local level need to be on the table including raising the state’s gas tax and restoring an indexing of the state’s gas tax to increase with inflation, something Wisconsin did before Scott Walker became governor.

Walker has already announced he doesn’t plan to raise taxes to pay for better roads in the next state budget.

As aLa Crosse County board member, Doyle said the governor’s plan does little to help local governments with major road needs.

“The governor’s proposal will give us another third of a mile,” Doyle said. “So instead of doing eight miles of the 150 (miles of roads La Crosse County estimates that are in need of repair) were going to be doing eight and a third. That’s not enough.”

Bradley said he’s waiting on the results of an audit of the Department of Transportation before saying which direction the state needs to go to improve roads. He is in favor of spreading money being spent on road improvements in southeastern Wisconsin to road construction projects around the state.

“I don’t think we need to rush into penalizing drivers right away until we find out exactly what our shortfalls are going to be,” said Bradley. “And then we can take a look and see what we are going to do.”

Bradley said he would never vote to index the state’s gas tax automatically, because politicians need to come back to the district to explain to voters why they are being charged more money.

– John Davis

Featured in this Show

  • 2016 UW-La Crosse 94th Assembly Debate

    Wisconsin Public Radio is one of the sponsors of the 94th Assembly District Debate between Incumbent State Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, and challenger Julian Bradley, R-Holmen. The debate was recorded on Tuesday, October 25, 2016.

Episode Credits

  • Hope Kirwan Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Representative Steve Doyle Guest
  • Julian Bradley Guest