Democrats "disappointed" with Governor Walker's college affordability plan
By WSAW-TV (Channel 7)
Wisconsin democrats say that Governor Walker and republicans have taken too long to address college affordability and the republican plan unveiled Monday doesn't go far enough.
Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) tells Newschannel 7 that she and fellow democrats have been working on student loan debt issues for the last 3 years. She says they've put comprehensive reform bills on the table that have been voted down by Governor Walker and the republicans every time.
"It shouldn't be partisan but instead of moving a democratic bill forward, as the Governor had the opportunity to do, he's introducing something that won't even make as great of an impact as the current legislation on the table that we've been working on for 3 years," says Shankland.
Shankland says the key piece lacking in Governor Walker's plan is a refinancing component. The democrats are pushing legislation that would allow student loan debt holders to refinance their loan, similar to refinancing a car or a mortgage.
"It sounds like the Governor is still against our refinance legislation, so I'm disappointed," said Shankland.
She says this would save people hundreds of dollars a year, which they could put back into Wisconsin's economy.
"They could spend it on their small business, they could create their own business, they could buy a house, buy a car. That's what the student loan debt crisis is really affecting, it's affecting our business owners, it's affecting our middle class," says Shankland.
A study released by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) shows that 70% of Wisconsin graduates have student loan debt, ranking third in the nation. The average debt holder in Wisconsin has more than $28,800 in debt, ranking seventeenth nationally.
Shankland believes the republicans' plan doesn't go far enough to reverse those trends.
"If they want to get serious, we have the legislation to tackle all of this. It surprises me that it took 3 years for them to even discuss the issue, but their plan is a small band aid on a national crisis," said Shankland.