Gov. Walker taking gas tax argument to voters at the pumps

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker is taking his argument against raising the gas tax straight to voters at the pump.

Walker’s campaign on Tuesday unveiled an ad that will play on screens at gas stations as people are refueling their cars. In the spot, Walker hits Democratic opponent Tony Evers for being willing to raise the gas tax to pay for roads.

Not to be outdone, Evers has a new pair of more traditional ads that will run on television screens across the state. They feature people talking about the high price of prescription drugs and health care in Wisconsin. He unveiled the new spots Tuesday as part of the rollout of a plan he released Monday designed to lower prescription drug costs.

The new ads come exactly one month before the Nov. 6 election. Recent polls have shown Evers with a slight lead over Walker, who is seeking a third term. The latest Marquette University Law School poll, the first since the drama over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle for the U.S. Supreme Court, was to be released on Wednesday.

In his new ad, Walker wears a Milwaukee Brewers jacket and knocks on the screen saying, “Hi, it’s Scott Walker. Good thing you’re filling up because if Tony Evers wins, he’ll raise the gas tax by as much as a dollar a gallon.”

While Evers is willing to raise the 32.9-cent per-gallon gas tax, he’s said it’s a “lie” to claim he’d want to increase it by as much as a dollar. Evers hasn’t said how much he’d be willing to raise it.

Walker has also been open to raising the gas tax in the past, but only if there is a corresponding cut in another tax. Assembly Republicans in 2017 proposed raising the gas tax as part of a plan to shore up state road funding. The Legislature and Walker ultimately rejected that in favor of a plan that relied on increased borrowing.

Evers highlights his health care cost-reduction plans with a pair of ads featuring people talking about their struggles to pay for medicine they need. In one , a woman from Oconomowoc says she can’t afford a pill that costs $200 a day that can help her fight kidney disease. In another , an Onalaska woman with breast cancer says the cost of health care in Wisconsin is “absolutely outrageous.”

Under Evers’ plan to reduce prescription drug costs, a new state board would be created that would review price hikes and fine drugmakers for excessive increases. Walker’s campaign referenced a federal appeals court decision this year ruling that a similar Maryland law allowing its attorney general to sue drugmakers over price increases was unconstitutional.

Also under Evers’ plan, flu shots would be covered under the popular SeniorCare program that holds down costs on prescription drugs for about 92,000 senior citizens. Walker tried twice to scale back SeniorCare, but after being rebuffed by lawmakers, he sought federal approval to continue it indefinitely instead of having to seek waivers.

Evers’ plan also calls for reducing state expenses on prescription drug purchases and allowing imports of prescription drugs from Canada.

Walker’s biggest attempt to lower health care costs this year came with a $200 million reinsurance program that is designed to lower premium rates for most people in the individual market starting next year.