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By James B. Nelson November 15, 2011

Wisconsin Democratic Party says Gov. Scott Walker received a $7,300 pay raise

The reaction to plans by Gov. Scott Walker to freeze the pay of state workers continues to roll in.

And Walker’s own pay continues to be a focal point of his opponents.

On Nov. 9, 2011, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin issued a news release that attempted to fan the fire. The group, which is launching a recall against the first-term Republican governor, says Walker has given himself a pay raise -- and he should give some of it back.

"The rest of Wisconsin is being asked to accept less and suffer his unemployment economy, but apparently Scott Walker thinks he deserves a $7,300 raise," state Party Chairman Mike Tate was quoted as saying in the news release.

A raise when pay for others is frozen?

This one sounds familiar.

We looked at this same topic recently when various liberal bloggers said Walker had given himself -- along with other statewide elected officials -- a pay hike. They had misread a sloppily prepared document about the pay changes. We ruled the claim on Walker’s raise False.

The state Democrats revived the topic with their news release, which took Walker to task for "whining" about his family’s loss of buying power in a TV interview. We asked party spokesman Graeme Zielinski for backup on the claim that Walker had received a raise.

His reply:

"Why do we have to do your homework for you? Go ask the executive office. Google. You arrive at the same conclusions regardless of whether we help you or not, and then congratulate yourself, so why should we waste our time?"


Here’s what state law says: Walker is not receiving a raise in January. That would violate Article IV, Section 26 of the the state Constitution.

Here’s how it works.

Walker took office in January and was paid $144,423. That’s $7,331 more than his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. State law calls for the pay of the governor, other state constitutional officers, and members of the Legislature to be set before their terms of office begin.

In Walker’s case, the higher salaries were proposed by Doyle’s administration and approved by state lawmakers in 2008.

So Walker received one level of pay when he took office. Under the state constitution, that pay will not change for the duration of his four-year term.

Critics have noted that Walker will be making more than Doyle (true), that as Milwaukee County Executive he gave back some of his pay (true) and that he could choose to do the same as governor (true). But that’s not what the party said.

The Democrats called upon Walker to "return his $7,300 raise." Their statement continued: "As pay remains the same for Corrections Officers, Licensed Practical Nurses, Social Workers and Facilities Maintenance Employees, Scott Walker's salary increases by more than $7,331."
So let’s bring this one home. Again.

The state Democrats’ news release states that the governor "is set to make $143,000," and says Walker "thinks he deserves a $7,300 raise," and calls upon the governor  to "return his $7,300 raise." The release states that Walker’s "salary increases by more than $7,331."

That’s wrong, wrong and still wrong.

The pay for Walker -- or whoever succeeded Doyle as governor in January 2011 -- was long ago established. It’s one amount -- $144,423 -- and it can’t change. Walker can’t give himself a pay raise. It’s right there in the state Constitution.

We rate the statement False.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

PolitiFact Wisconsin, "Bloggers say Gov. Scott Walker is taking a pay raise while freezing salaries for state workers," Oct. 28, 2011

Democratic Party of Wisconsin news release, Nov. 9, 2011

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,"Plan would freeze state workers’ wages for two years,"Oct. 25, 2011

Telephone interview, Tim Lundquist, spokesman, Wisconsin Department of Administration, Oct. 27, 2011

Emails, Graeme Zielinski, spokesman, Democratic Party of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau salaries report

Wisconsin Blue Book

Legislative Reference Bureau,"Salaries of elected officials effective January 2011."

Wisconsin State Constitution

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Wisconsin Democratic Party says Gov. Scott Walker received a $7,300 pay raise

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