10 Questions with Democrat Candidate for Governor Brett Hulsey

May 1, 2014

[Milwaukee, Wisc…] Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison), Democrat candidate for Governor, hosted a meet and greet event in Milwaukee on Tuesday evening. At the event, Hulsey sat down with Bill Jaeck to discuss the policies he would push for if elected.

Jaeck was not asked by the MacIver Institute to conduct the interview, but instead approached the gubernatorial candidate on his own. He told Hulsey he was a conservative and that he would shop the article around to different organizations including MacIver. Hulsey approved the interview transcript prior to publication after making one change to correct a factual error.

Jaeck’s interview with Hulsey is below:

1) Why are you running for Governor?

“I am running for governor to get Wisconsin working again. Both our government working again for the people and Wisconsin citizens working. We’ve had a tough three years under Governor Walker. We’re second in the nation for losing jobs according to the recent federal numbers. It’s time to get WI working again and I have a plan to do that.”

2) What would you consider to be your top four to five qualifications?

“First of all, I’m the only Democrat that actually stood up and opposed Walker over the last three years. I was there debating against the unfair/despair Act 10 for over 60 hours with my Assembly colleagues. I was camped out in my office during the protests.

In addition to my role in the Assembly (State Representative for the 78th Assembly District), I’ve been on the Dane County Board for 14 years. I run a small business that is an award winning energy environmental consulting company called Better Environmental Solutions. I’ve been in public service and when I was 19 years-old I was a Vista volunteer working on a state energy program in Alaska during the energy crisis in 1978-79.”

3) What separates you from Mary Burke…again top items?

“First, I have been there from day one fighting Scott Walker — but actually before that when he gave away $810 million of federal monies to upgrade our train system. I don’t know where Mary Burke has been since she announced her candidacy but I never saw her during the unfair Act 10 debate. The second thing is on outsourcing jobs. When I was at the Sierra Club they outsourced 42 jobs and people had an hour to clean out their desks and leave. We then formed an independent union and I became the union VP and shop steward.

When I read about Mary Burke outsourcing a whole factory overseas (the Klein Bike Factory) I just thought that was irresponsible. I own a Klein Bike as I bought one of the American made models from Chehalis, Washington. Apparently she was in charge of {quote} integrating Klein into Trek and by integrating that meant shipping jobs overseas. So she’s directly benefited from her millionaire fortune from outsourcing American jobs…and I think Democrats need to know that.

Last of all, and again as a small businessperson I started my own business in a basement with $100 so I’m the regular guy in this race, where Mary Burke is the millionaire. I’m the person much like other people in Wisconsin trying to get by and I want to bring that perspective to the Governor’s office to get Wisconsin working again.”

4) Describe your progress in scheduling debate(s) with Mary Burke…will she?

“It’s not been good. Again I’ve declared a week ago Monday, but over the weekend, I was at three Democrat district convention events in Southeast Wisconsin, Oshkosh and Kewaunee County. I was the only Democrat candidate present as Mary was a no-show. She was supposed to be on the program at the Rock county fundraiser event in Janesville last Sunday evening, however I was told she heard I was coming and bailed out on that too. Some people have heard about the Chicken suit, but we don’t need the chicken suit with her as Mary Burke is not ready to debate Scott Walker, me or anyone else. According to the Milwaukee Journal she’s mushy and squishy on the issues.”

5) How’s the campaign going? (Pluses or surprises)

“It’s going great! I’ve put over 600 miles on my two cars and I’m receiving great receptions.”

6) What role will you have at next month’s Democrat convention in Wisconsin Dells?

“Well I hope to be able to speak to the convention. I was told the Democrats were having a hard time getting me on their web site. I’ve been a Democrat since I was a Vista volunteer in the Carter administration. I was Bill Clinton’s deputy political director and environmental policy advisor in the war room in Little Rock, AR in 1992.

I was a Democrat delegate for many national conventions so I hope the Democrats will let me speak. I’m busy at this point talking to voters getting signatures to get on the ballot…but you can ask Mike Tate.”

7) Once elected Governor, what imperatives would you have on the table in the first six months in office?

“On day one I would call a special session and restore Act 10 (the Walker unfair/despair act) and give people both their money back that was, I believe, illegally taken from them; the $330 million for healthcare and benefits the union had legally bargained for over 50 years. Then I would restore the rights of workers to bargain for a safe work place and other key workplace issues.

On day two, I would budget $700 million for clean energy jobs. We have a huge backlog of maintenance needs in government buildings. I was just talking to the facilities director of Milwaukee Area Technical College today and he has a list. I want to come up with a funding package to fund that list either through existing state money, which the board of public land commissioners have, or place it out to the private sector. For example, Johnson Controls has a billion dollars in energy efficiency savings. When I did this on the Dane County Board our average savings was 14 percent. So that’s a lot better than we’re getting on our state retirement fund, which is at 2 percent.

Also we’d restore the money Governor Walker cut from our public schools. My goal is to go back to Tommy Thompson’s era where two-thirds of our public schools were funded by state taxpayers, instead of property taxpayers.

We’d restore monies to the UW system for $274 million. We need the UW system and our job training technical colleges running at full speed to be able to train the high-wage workers of the 21st century.

Then the clean energy jobs fund will support 11,000 to 13,000 jobs according to an independent study from the Energy Center of Wisconsin. I think that will keep me busy for a couple of days. I’m an energy consultant, so engineer and electrician jobs to replace all of our state lights we can with LED lights so that we can cut the energy use by 80-90% and improve the quality of the lighting.”

8) Switching subjects to Education, how should teachers be evaluated?

“My mom has been teaching in Oklahoma City. It has world-class standards. So I believe we can come up with teacher evaluations. Our challenge is to have an accountable system and right now we have uncontrolled charter/privatized schools with no accountability. So the first thing is to bring all schools up to accountability for both testing of the students and background checks for teachers — and for both public and private schools. Based on the data we have we know children don’t do as well in private schools as public schools. So if they are not a good investment we should not be sending money to them.”

9) Today’s WSJ references Mary Burke’s wealth. Because of it, do you feel she can adequately support all classes of Wisconsinites?

“Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas use to say of a young George Bush that he landed on third base and he thought he hit a triple! And when you hear Mary Burke talk about her tough upbringing, yet she’s never had to work a day in her life. I worked my way through college and started a small business. I am the guy that makes $40,000 – 50,000 a year like the typical Wisconsinite and running against the millionaire bike magnet Mary Burke and Scott Walker that’s backed by billionaire lobbyists.

So how does Mary, a one tenth of a one-percenter represent the other 99.9% of us? I don’t understand that.”

10) Finally on Act 10, with a cooperating Legislature what changes, if any, would you adopt?

“Remember we did not have a budget crisis when Governor Walker came in. He said on page 4 of his book that we had a $3 billion deficit when in fact we had a $70 million cash surplus. He used this deficit as an excuse to take away worker’s rights and slash funding for worker’s training and our school kids. I will put the money back.

Like I said, on day one I will call a special session and I’ll put as much as I can in that session to see what passes and what doesn’t. But then in my budget I will put it all in. The way the Wisconsin budget works is that the Governor proposes, the Legislature disposes, and the Governor gets the last process to create new words and numbers. So I will do my best to end Act 10 and if I have the support of the Legislature that will make it much easier.”