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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

GOP gubernatorial candidates debate at Eckstein Hall

Mark Neumann shakes hands of audience members before a debate last week at Eckstein Hall. Photo by Anna Trela/[email protected]

During their last scheduled debate in Wednesday night’s “UPFRONT Town Hall Challenge,” Republican gubernatorial candidates Scott Walker and Mark Neumann focused on how to reform education and address the looming 2011 budget deficit, projected at $2.5 billion.

Given the deficit, it might be harder for the candidates to follow through on promises of cutting taxes, said Mike Gousha, the moderator and a distinguished fellow of law and public policy at Eckstein Hall, where the debate was held.

Only rarely did Walker and Neumann exchange drastically different viewpoints.

Neumann, a former U.S. congressman, frequently cited his 26 years in business, while Walker spoke of his work as Milwaukee county executive the last eight years as his major selling point.

Neumann has proposed an idea for Wisconsin residents to pay their property taxes monthly starting January 2012. Walker dismissed the idea, saying this only changes the payment date of the taxes, not the rate, but Neumann responded that Walker “just didn’t get it.”

When asked what the top three areas to spend state tax dollars are, both candidates said they would focus on public safety and education. Walker added higher education to those two, while Neumann said he would spend on infrastructure.

Both candidates agreed they would not have high-speed rail factored into the state’s future plans, a clear divide from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the likely Democratic candidate.

Although Barrett declined to participate in the debate, he said during a pre-debate press conference he would debate whomever wins the Sept. 14 GOP primary.

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