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April's top PolitiFact Wisconsin claims

Posted: 6:05 PM, May 02, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-02 19:05:58-04

It's our favorite time of the month at PolitiFact Wisconsin when we talk about the top four at four fact checks with Tom Kertscher at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

#4 Jeff Greenfield tweeted: "In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1."

Our rating: Mostly False.

Greenfield, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate and a longtime network TV commentator, made the claim on the day of school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

By one count widely cited in the news media, there had been 18 incidents in which shots were fired inside or outside of a school or university building in the United States to that point in 2018. But only three involved a mass shooting. And the count included two suicides, three accidental shootings and nine incidents in which there were no fatalities or injuries.

As for the rest of the world, Greenfield had no evidence to back up that part of his claim. And an expert relied on by the New York Times for gun violence statistics told us there is no way to know how many school shootings -- using the definition Greenfield relies on -- have occurred outside of the United States over the past 20 years.

#3. Gov. Scott Walker: "Our bold reforms have Wisconsin's unemployment rate down to an all-time LOW of 2.9 percent, and the number of people working at an all-time HIGH!"
 
Our rating: Half True.
 
Walker was correct on the two statistics. But his various reforms can only be considered to be a contributing factor, at most, given many factors that affect the state's economy.

#2 State Superintendent Tony Evers says that despite a recent increase in school funding, Scott Walker "has taken over a billion dollars from the public schools."

Our rating: Mostly False.

This claim was made in the campaign for governor by Evers, the state schools superintendent and a Democratic candidate for governor. Walker, the GOP incumbent, is seeking a third term.

In Walker's first year as governor, we found, he cut school aid by $426.5 million from the previous year -- the final year that his predecessor, Democrat Jim Doyle, served as governor.

Because it took five years to get school funding back to that base level, it can be argued that Walker "took" a total of $1.17 billion from schools over that period.

But since then, Walker has increased school funding to the point that the deficit, in comparison to the base year, is $183.6 million.

#1 Gabby Giffords PAC: "Paul Ryan has blocked all action to strengthen our gun laws."

Our rating: Mostly False.

The anti-gun violence political action committee, named for former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., cited a dozen gun control measures that didn't get to a vote in the House.

So, it's clear that Ryan, the Republican House speaker from Wisconsin, did not move to bring those measures to the floor.

But that's not the same as Ryan himself blocking the measures, given that other lawmakers, such as committee chairs, also have such power.

Also, a bill that would strengthen background checks did pass the House -- although it also expanded gun rights, by making it legal for licensed concealed carry holders to bring guns across state lines.