BELOIT - Gov. Scott Walker continued to stay out of the latest immigration debate prompted by President Donald Trump floating a possible executive order attempting to end birthright citizenship for children born in America to undocumented immigrants.
Walker appeared with Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-31, during a campaign event at Pratt Industries in Beloit. He touted the state's low unemployment rate, high wage growth, job pool and bashed Democratic gubernatorial challenger Tony Evers over the school superintendent's proposed policies he says would raise taxes on Wisconsin residents.
With less than a week to go until the Nov. 6 general election, Walker told the group of around 50 Pratt Industries workers, supporters and officials the race against Evers "will be so close."
Walker's comments come following a final poll released Wednesday by Marquette University Law School that showed Walker and Evers were tied among likely voters, with both candidates netting 47 percent support.
"I've said for a year and a half I thought it was going to be extremely close. History shows us, no matter which party, Democrat or Republican,...any time someone has a president in the White House of the same party, it's always tough for those of us that live in competitive states," Walker said. "We believe the key to our success, and breaking through that, is through grassroots volunteers getting the facts out, making people realize we've turned this state around and we don't want to screw it up and go backwards."
During Walker's media availability after Wednesday's event, the governor once again declined to say whether he would support any executive order attempting to end birthright citizenship.
"It's a federal issue and I am focused on the issues governors have to deal with, which are jobs, the economy, schools - all things that we have done better than Tony Evers has."
When asked if he would cooperate with federal authorities in Wisconsin if any such executive order withstood legal challenges, Walker said his focus was on other issues brought by voters.
"Real people, beyond the media, what they ask me about is jobs, the economy and they want to know about pre-existing conditions," Walker said, promising to cover pre-existing conditions for families since the issue was personal to him. Walker has faced controversy on the issue of covering pre-existing conditions since authorizing Wisconsin to join a lawsuit aimed at overturning the Affordable Care Act. If that happened, the Wisconsin legislature would have to mandate coverage, something it so far has been unable to do.
In response to Evers announcing a $15 minimum wage plan, Walker said the effort was "too low," saying that wages should be far higher, and be boosted through providing workers greater educational opportunities.
"They need to make far more than $15," Walker said. "We have people all over the state who are talking about raising wages to bring more people into the workforce. Education is a focal point of that."
Following a social media threat made against Evers, Walker said he had spoken personally with him and had authorized Wisconsin State Patrol security for Evers, referencing past threats against himself and his family.
"...We absolutely have to be united against any threats against anyone regardless of faith or political background," Walker said.
On Wednesday, Walker's administration received federal approval for raising Medicaid premiums for state workers to $8 monthly for low income adults without dependent children, something Walker said would allow easier access to jobs.
He added that the increase was not unreasonable, noting most private businesses require employees to pay monthly premiums.
"We're not making it harder to get benefits, we are making it easier to get a job," Walker said. "For years there have been barriers to work and we provide employability training. We provide help for people who are facing addiction and we make it easier for people to get jobs, and when you have over 100,000 jobs available on our state website, we can find a job for every able-bodied, working age adult in the state...Now's the time for us to do well with unemployment."
Federal authorities denied a plan that would have allowed drug testing for enrollees, but approved a health risk assessment form. If the form indicates substance abuse concerns, people will be guided towards treatment options but won't be required to comply as a condition for Medicaid eligibility.
In response to Walker's stop in Beloit, Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Alex Japko said, "Scott Walker is doubling down on the same policies that left Wisconsin's schools severely underfunded, and its infrastructure crumbling. To make matters worse, Walker is still in court suing to gut protections for 2.4 million people in the state with pre-existing conditions. Wisconsinites are fed up with the Walker agenda. It's time for a change."