A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactChecking Scott Walker


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became the 15th Republican to officially declare he is running for president of the United States. “I’m in,” he tweeted to his followers this morning. He is scheduled to deliver an announcement speech in his home state at the Waukesha County Exposition Center.

Walker, who won reelection as governor in 2014, will join the race as a top contender for his party’s nomination, according to Real Clear Politics’ polling average. We fact-checked the governor during last year’s campaign and after his victory once it became clear he would run for president. Here are some of our findings.

Education

In January, Walker boasted that his education policies were working, citing as evidence that “ACT scores are up and Wisconsin now ranks second in the country.” But the state’s ACT college admission scores are not up, and it ranks second out of 30 states — not the entire country.

The state’s average composite score on the 2013-14 ACT college admission exam was 22.2 — exactly what it was in the 2010-11 school year, when Walker first took office.

As for Wisconsin’s ranking, ACT does not rank states. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction determined the state’s ranking by comparing its composite score with 29 other states that had 50 percent or more of their students take the ACT test. While Walker said Wisconsin ranks second “in the country,” it is really only among 30 states.

Job Creation

In late October 2014, during his campaign for reelection as governor, Walker claimed in a TV ad that his “reforms” were helping Wisconsin create jobs, boasting that “just last month our reforms helped create 8,400 new jobs.”

But Walker was only referring to private-sector jobs. The state’s gain in total employment for September was just 300 jobs because of steep declines in local government jobs. The preliminary jobs data for September 2014 showed a gain of 8,400 private-sector jobs, but a loss of 8,100 government jobs — for a net gain of 300 jobs. (See Table 5.)

(Postscript: After Walker was elected, the BLS conducted its annual benchmarking correction that turned the state’s preliminary net gain of 300 total jobs in September to a net loss of 4,200. There was a downward revision in Wisconsin’s 2014 employment statistics, first reflected with the release of the January figures, to 2,851,000 in August and 2,846,800 in September – a loss of 4,200 jobs. See Table D-1. Those remain the current job figures for those months.)

In that same ad, Walker said his state “now ranks in the top four states in the Midwest for private-sector job growth.” But the state’s job gains at the time lagged behind the national average.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ total jobs data from January 2011 to September 2014 showed that Wisconsin had a job growth rate of 4.3 percent compared with a national average of 6.6 percent, ranking it ninth at the time among the 12 states that make up the “Midwest” under the U.S. Census Bureau’s definition.

We will be following Walker and all 20 of the declared candidates and any others who may join in. (Ohio Gov. John Kasich plans to make it official on July 21.) You can keep track of the candidates by going to our “Presidential Election 2016” page.

— Eugene Kiely