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Democratic candidates for governor differ on priorities

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Finding meaningful differences in policy positions can be difficult in the Democratic primary for governor, where the eight candidates running have far more in common than not.

While the candidates are trying to differentiate themselves in other ways — background, endorsements, style — there are some notable variances in their platforms. Each of the eight candidates was asked by The Associated Press to identify the three policy positions they hold that they feel separates them from the field.

There is some overlap — more than one candidate lists increasing school funding as a priority — but they also draw some meaningful distinctions, and even a little humor. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin — in an unsolicited fourth difference — said he's advocating for allowing all dogs in the state Capitol.

The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will face Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November.

Here is what the Democratic candidates identified as the differences that separate them from the rest of the field:

Tony Evers:

— Fix Wisconsin's school funding formula in line with his proposal as state superintendent to increase public spending for public schools and lessen pressure to raise local property taxes.

— Involve Democrats and Republicans to find a solution to paying for roads and other transportation projects.

— Establish a statewide early childhood education program to help close achievement gap.

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Matt Flynn:

— Break the contract with Foxconn Technology Group for manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin. Flynn, an attorney, would bring lawsuit if necessary to end the deal, which puts taxpayers on the hook for up to $4.5 billion in state and local incentives if Foxconn invests $10 billion and hires 13,000 people.

— Raise teacher salaries, rather than lower the salaries of state lawmakers to the level of the average teacher pay as Evers has proposed.

— Flynn, 70, the former state party chairman and candidate for Congress, also argues that he is the most experienced politician in the field.

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Mike McCabe:

— The cornerstone of McCabe's campaign is attempting to remove the influence of money in politics. He's put forward a variety of proposals to achieve that goal and has also refused to accept donations over $200.

— Commit Wisconsin to clean energy plan to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 or sooner, a 50 percent reduction in overall energy use by 2030 or sooner, and zero climate-disrupting air pollution emissions by 2050 or sooner.

— Create a pilot Universal Basic Income program targeting vulnerable workers. Under his $9 million plan, 500 people would receive $1,000 a month and another 500 would get $500 per month for comparison purposes. The experiment would examine how those two groups fared economically compared with the rest of the state.

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Mahlon Mitchell:

— Create a Wisconsin Compact where college students commit to volunteering in the community in exchange for a free education at the state's two-year and technical colleges. Another part of his plan to combat student loan debt is to create a new state agency to coordinate refinancing of loans with the state at a lower interest rate.

— Raise minimum wage to $15 an hour.

— Push for constitutional amendment — which the Legislature would have to pass twice and voters would have to approve — requiring the state to pay two-thirds of all public K-12 education costs.

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Josh Pade:

— Create entrepreneurship initiative to reduce barriers for new, homegrown businesses; lower taxes for the middle class; modernize the state's infrastructure; and close the skills gap.

— Create task force to close education achievement gap and allow college students to reduce student loan debt through public service credit hours.

— Make Wisconsin run with 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

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Kelda Roys:

— Make early childhood education universally available statewide.

— Ensure universal paid family and medical leave, including up to 12 weeks for every newborn or adopted child.

— Reduce student loan debt by sending more taxpayer funding to public universities to hold down tuition, make two-year technical colleges and universities free, regulate "for-profit schemes" that increase student debt and make it possible to refinance student loans like those for mortgages and cars. She also calls for expanding student loan forgiveness programs.

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Paul Soglin:

— Raise taxes to pay for public schools.

— Establish a network of community health clinics funded in part by Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

— Include a Republican in his cabinet because Soglin said he believes "you need bi-partisan support and collaboration to govern effectively and get things done for the people you serve."

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Kathleen Vinehout:

— Make the state's BadgerCare health insurance, currently available only to poor, elderly and disabled people, open to all.

— Rewrite the school aid formula to increase funding for public schools by taking money away from private schools in the voucher program and cutting corporate tax breaks.

— Vinehout did not identify a third area.

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