MADISON – The grades are coming in on Scott Walker’s so-called higher education reforms – and they are very bad news for Wisconsin’s once-proud university system. After $250 million in cuts passed during the last biennial budget, families, students, faculty, and campus communities all across Wisconsin are feeling the effects of these draconian and short-sighted measures. Many students are taking longer to graduate because of classes being cancelled; quality professors are leaving due to lack of resources and attacks on tenure; and Wisconsin’s economy is stagnating because graduates are being crushed by student loan debt.
“If Walker and Republican leaders are really concerned about improving our economy, they would invest in our public higher education system and make it easier for graduates to pay off their student loan debt,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Kory Kozloski said.
The Wisconsin Budget Project released an in-depth study to see how Walker’s UW-System budget cuts are effecting individual schools in the UW-System. What they found is staggering: with one exception every UW school has seen a cut of at least $1.6 million dollars. Those cuts mean fewer classes and professors, and severe reductions in services for students. Furthermore, many professors are leaving the UW-System because of a lack of resources and with the end of tenure.
On top of the cuts to the UW-System, Scott Walker and the Republican legislature refused to pass common sense legislation introduced by Sen. Dave Hansen and Rep. Cory Mason that would allow students and graduates to refinance their college loan debt the same way others in Wisconsin can refinance a mortgage. Instead of graduates being able to invest in a home, car, or other parts of our economy, they are faced with the decision to pay their rent or make a student loan payment. As a result, Wisconsin’s businesses and economy are missing out because of a lack of investment.
Independent research shows Wisconsin could lose out on as much as $200 billion because student borrowers are opting to buy used instead of new cars. In addition, there is a high correlation between those with student debt and those who rent homes instead of purchasing.
“Democrats have offered real solutions to make sure our UW-System is properly funded and to ensure student borrowers aren’t crushed by debt when they graduate. It’s time for Scott Walker and Republican politicians in Madison to make higher education a priority once again, and restore the UW system to it’s proper place as an engine for innovation, research, entrepreneurism, and job creation,” Kozloski said.