Governor Scott Walker signs college affordability laws
By Greg Praver, WSAW-TV (Channel 7)
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WSAW) - Student loan debts continue to hit Wisconsin students and families hard, but Governor Scott Walker traveled through the state signing college affordability laws.
Governor Walker signed four bills that will increase grants for technical college students and will also require the department of workforce development to help seek out internship opportunities for college students.
Some lawmakers did not think it goes far enough.
Governor Walker's mission is as follows:
"...find ways to make college more affordable, find it to make it more relevant and get young people into the workforce to pursue careers as rapidly as possible," he said.
By student's being employed sooner rather than later, "the more effective it is to deal with student loan debt," he said.
Governor Walker's College Affordability package includes six bills that focus on halts on tuition, reducing student loan debt, giving students increased help with the hopes of it turning into internships and the creation of grants.
Some democrats had criticized Governor Walker's package, saying, it is really about campaign talking points.
Katrina Shankland, a state representative in the 71st assembly district, argued he has not led a meaningful movement.
"Democrats have been advocating for several years a bill that would save student loan borrowers hundreds of dollars per year both on their taxes and then on refinancing their interest rate...so my question is...why hasn't that been done?," Shankland said.
She thought her proposal should make everyone happy including republicans.
"What does help them get ahead on their loans and achieve their dreams is by giving them a tax break and by letting them refinance...and it should appeal to republicans because it's a market-based approach," Shankland said.
She said there are over 800,000 student loan borrowers in the state. On average, they have about $28,800 in student loan debt.
She added that Wisconsin ranks third in the nation for percentages of graduates with student loan debt.
Governor Walker announced the creation of a new position, student loan debt specialist, whose role is to assist borrowers and provide resources for financial education and counseling.
He didn't select shankland, but rather, selected cheryl weiss, who's been with the state's department of financial institutions for a 15 years.