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Evers

Democratic governor nominee Tony Evers speaks to supporters at Beloit College Monday.

BELOIT — On the eve of the election, Democratic governor nominee Tony Evers vowed to govern as a pragmatist, while his opponent, two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker, urged voters not to change course on his leadership.

Evers also defended his late shift on taxes, suggesting he doesn't view his plan to curtail a tax break for manufacturers and farmers as a tax increase.

Evers' comments came before a supportive crowd of 100-plus at Beloit College Monday, on a closing campaign tour with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and other Democrats.

“I’m going to Madison to solve problems. I’m not going to Madison to go someplace else," Evers said.

Walker was campaigning in northern Wisconsin early Monday and was set to wrap up in Waukesha later in the day.

His campaign did not immediately respond to Wisconsin State Journal inquiries seeking to clarify Walker's last-minute commitment to embrace the "exact same" language of the most popular provision of former President Barack Obama's health care law -- its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Walker has made taxes his top line of attack on Evers, saying he will raise taxes, which will cost the state jobs.

"Wisconsin is working," Walker tweeted from his campaign account Monday. "We can’t afford to turn back now!"

Twice in recent days, Evers has responded by saying he plans to raise "no taxes" — an apparent contradiction to his plan to curtail a state tax credit for manufacturers and farmers, and his repeated acknowledgements that he would consider raising taxes on gas and wealthy individuals.

Pressed on the issue Monday, Evers said the tax credit for manufacturers and farmers "is not going away"  under his plan because they could continue to claim it for income of $300,000 or less.

"They may get less tax credit. To me, we're not messing with the tax code there," Evers said. 

Evers added his budget prioritizes an income-tax cut of 10 percent for individuals making $100,000 a year or less, and families making $150,000 or less.

Evers also signaled he remains open to a gas-tax increase as part of a fix for roads and bridges. 

"In order to solve this transportation problem we have to bring people together with no preconceived solutions," Evers said. "Would I prefer not raising gas taxes? The answer is yes."

Evers also continued to criticize Walker Monday for his position on protecting people with pre-existing health conditions, referencing his support for lawsuit to overturn it.

"He's saying "Oh yes, we're going to take care of these people with pre-existing conditions at the same time he's in federal court saying 'Jeepers, we need to get rid of the Affordable Care Act,'" Evers said.

After spending eight year as of the nation’s highest-profile opponents of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, Walker said last week he wants to codify in state law the “exact same” language from one of its key protections — ensuring affordable coverage is available to people with pre-existing health conditions. Such a measure would preserve the protections in Wisconsin even if Obamacare is repealed at the federal level.

Not mentioned by Walker was that people in Wisconsin who get their insurance through a self-funded employer plan could lose pre-existing condition legal protections if Obamacare were repealed, regardless of what law the state passes. That’s because federal law only permits the federal government to regulate those plans.

GOP state lawmakers also have declined to pass a bill applying a much less comprehensive set of protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Speaking to WISN-TV in a segment that aired Sunday, Walker said Republican lawmakers “absolutely” would pass what he’s proposing — despite their resistance last session to the less sweeping measure.

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Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.