Walker: Wisconsin Comeback Is Working. Students Worry

WISCONSINREPORT.COM (01/14/2015) – In his State of the State address this week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced that the Wisconsin Comeback is Working. He went on to list some Walker Facts to support the notion. Facts that were well received by some, and Not So Much by others.

Governor Walker said “If you remember nothing else, remember this: more people are working, while fewer are unemployed.”

“State government is more effective, more efficient, and more accountable, and the state’s financial condition has improved”, Walker pointed out.

Early on in his State of The State speech, Governor Scott Walker took a shot at Democrats, compared to Republicans, in what could be called an attempt at explaining why it was a good idea that his supporters voted for him last November, 2014.

He said that, since Republicans are in power in the Legislature and the Governor’s office, “Budgets are set based on the public’s ability to pay, instead of the government’s hunger to spend.”

“School scores are up and more students are graduating, and we are helping more of our fellow citizens to transition from government dependence to work,” Walker continued.

Some figures the Governor cited: “According to preliminary numbers from the Department of Workforce Development, there are now 7,600 more private sector jobs in Wisconsin than there were before the recession. The unemployment rate that peaked at 9.2 percent in January of 2010 is now down to 5.2 percent. Trends show it will continue to drop this year”, he said.

“While December job numbers for the states come out next week, the preliminary November data for Wisconsin shows we had the best monthly private sector job growth in more than two decades. Specifically, the year-over-year numbers show the creation of 51,000 private sector jobs—which is the best since the end of the 1990s,” the Governor went on.

“Budget reforms over the past four years reduced the burden on the hard-working taxpayers of this state by $2 billion, and we will continue to reduce that burden every year that I am in office”, he continued.

Governor Scott Walker said property taxes on a typical home were $141 lower in December of 2014 than they were four years ago.

Walker said, “while the state of state is strong, we want it to be even stronger in the future.”

He mentioned parts of . what he referred to, as, “our legislative agenda for the future of this great state”.

“Our plan will help people get the education and skills they need to succeed. We want the opportunity to be as equal as possible with the outcome left up to each and every one of us.

“In other words”, he said, “our plan is to help more people live their piece of the American Dream, right here in Wisconsin”.

“We will build off of our successes in worker training through the Blueprint for Prosperity we announced last year” Walker said.

“So far, we helped put nearly 5,000 more students into classes at our 16 technical colleges throughout the state”, he explained.

The State of The State is rosey, it would seem, but Governor Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature want to take us where they want to go, to make our lives and theirs, even rosier. However, there are worries from some corners that the Governor didn’t cover all of the bases. Some are feeling left out of the picture.

The United Council of University of Wisconsin Students is afraid that Governor Walker’s pledge to support educating people in the Technical School system, means lowering the governments support of the UW System.

“This biennium, it is imperative to reinvest in students to improve Wisconsin’s economic future. Prioritization of public higher education will provide opportunity for citizens to access education and have a more fulfilling life after graduation”, said  Lamonté Moore, United Council Senior Legislative Liaison, and former UW-Fond du Lac and UW-Milwaukee student.

The United Council anticipates that the State Legislature will push for a large cut in the UW System budget, which Lamonte Moore says, “would be devastating to the affordability and accessibility of public higher education in Wisconsin”.

“Just last academic year, 41,000 students around the state, nearly the total enrolled student population at the UW flagship in Madison, were eligible for funding, but were subsequently denied access to state financial aid due to lack of state funds”, Moore said.

UW students have responded with the following priorities:

– Funding for UW, particularly to make up for the lack of funding revenue that would otherwise come from tuition, given that an additional tuition freeze is to be anticipated.

– Support for Shared Governance ideals, a unique state-sanctioned communal forum for staff, faculty, and students to promote a culture of shared decision making.

– Wisconsin Higher Ed. Grant, with crippling loan debt, the needs of UW students could easily be met with direct and minimal support from state funds;

– Higher Ed., Lower Debt Bill, passing of this bill would liken the debt to home mortgages and give students better information before entering loan agreements.

The United Council of University of Wisconsin Students is reminding Governor Walker that an Investment now in the UW System and its students is an investment in the economy of the state.

As an example of how important State Funding of the UW System is, Amanda McGovern, United Council President, an alumna of UW-Sheboygan and current student at UW- Stevens Point, stated:

“Last year I was denied a grant due to lack of available state funds. I was told to simply get a summer job. But students need full and part-time employment each semester in order to afford the cost of college,” Amanda McGovern said.

Students are year-round taxpayers and stakeholders in the state budget process”, according to the United Council.

“In light of the over $1.2 trillion dollar student loan debt nationwide, United Council hopes that the Wisconsin state legislature is prepared to synchronize with the President’s new initiative for tuition-free two-year college opportunities”, the United Council of UW Students spokesperson said.

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