LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER



 

January 23, 2014

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONTACT ME


Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might have.

Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487

Email:
Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov

 

Mailing Address:

State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707

 

Web Site:

SenatorChrisLarson.com

 

Find Me on Facebook and Twitter:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS
 

Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below. 
 

 

A Midnight Cry

Date: Now through Sun., February 9,
Location: Milwaukee

Description: This moving, historical drama with live music is inspired by the true story of a young slave's journey to freedom through the Underground Railroad. Whisperings of a railroad helping slaves across to the free states seem too good to be true to young Lida Anderson. But with the help of other slaves and her family, Lida risks everything to be free. Leaving behind the only life she knows, she embarks on a dangerous journey out of slavery to freedom. "A Midnight Cry" brings to life a vital part of our nation's history. CLICK HERE for more information.

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (MAP)

Todd Wehr Theater

929 N. Water Street Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

End of the Rainbow

Date: Now through Sun., February 9
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Explosive acting and classic songs bring down the house in this critically-acclaimed exploration of Judy Garland's infamous 1968 London comeback. Named in Time Magazine's "Top 10" List and called "electrifying" by The New York Times, this savagely funny and emotionally-searing play finds the once-glittering starlet sparring with her new fiance, her devoted accompanist, and her personal demons. Filled with Garland's legendary tenacity, razor-sharp wit, and once-in-a-generation voice, this is a piece of theater truly befitting the late, great songstress who took us "over the rainbow." CLICK HERE or call (414) 224-9490 for more information.

Milwaukee Repertory Theater (MAP)
108 E. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

Colorful Nebula
Date:
Fridays Now through March 7 at 7 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Colorful Nebula showcases the beauty of space by highlighting a few celestial clouds such as the Eagle, Horsehead, and Cat's Eye. Audiences will not only be able to marvel at space's hidden beauty, but also learn how nebulae are connected to stars. Nebulae form stars, are produced by middle-aged stars and can be the final outcome of massive explosions from dying stars. CLICK HERE for more information.

UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium (MAP)
Physics Building
1900 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211

 

 

Milwaukee Children's Choir Auditions

Date: Now through Fri., March 28

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Milwaukee Children's Choir is a non-profit organization that offers programs for children ages four to 18, with convenient rehearsal sites throughout the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Choir students participate in numerous concerts and events every year. Auditions for the second semester are currently being held. To schedule an audition for a child, please call (414) 221-7040. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

 

Trains that Passed in the Night--Railroad Photographs of O. Winston Link
Date: Now through Sun., April 27
Location: Milwaukee
Description: This exhibition features 36 framed, original prints signed by O. Winston Link that showcase the final years of steam railroading on the Norfolk & Western Railway, the last major railroad in America to operate exclusively with steam power. They are regarded as one of the best records of this long vanished type of locomotion. The broad appeal of Link's photographs is derived not so much from the images of the steam locomotives themselves, but from the way in which their inclusion expresses Link's deeply felt respect for the quality of life that the steam railroad supported for so many years in the U.S. The exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. CLICK HERE for more information.

The Grohmann Museum (MAP)
1000 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

Milwaukee Ballet II World Premiere Featuring the Music of Cole Porter
Date: Sat., January 25 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: The vibrant dancers of the Milwaukee Ballet's second company, the Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II program, return for a third season. Said to have danced "a splendid concert with confidence, presence and personality" by dance critic John Schneider, this season's performance features a world premiere, with music by Cole Porter, choreography by former Milwaukee Ballet Company member Petr Zahradnicek, and live music by Daniel Boudewuns, senior accompanist for the Ballet.  CLICK HERE for more information.

 

South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (MAP)

901 15th Avenue

South Milwaukee, WI 53172

 

 

Philomusica String Quartet Concert
Date: Mon., January 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee

Description: Entering full force into their sixth season, the energetic Philomusica String Quartet continues to win the praise of critics by delighting audiences with jewels of string quartet repertoire, including Henry Purcell's "Pavane and Chaconne," Ludwig van Beethoven's "String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18 No. 2," Elliot Carter's "Elegy for String Quartet," and Robert Schumann's "String Quartet in A minor, Op. 41 No. 1." Tickets are $25. CLICK HERE or call (414) 276-5760 for more information about this event. 

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music (MAP)
1584 N. Prospect Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202


 

 

 

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 

The governor gave his annual State of the State address this week. Therefore, the latest Larson Report will discuss our legislative priorities for 2014, including how Wisconsin should spend its surplus dollars. Continue reading for more on this and other important issues, such as the reintroduction of special needs voucher legislation, increasing the minimum wage, and eliminating the income tax.


Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Important Notice

Due to technical difficulties with the Legislature's network last Thursday, a few of you may not have received the Larson Report dated for January 16, 2014. I apologize for any inconvenience.

 

If you would like a copy of the Larson Report to be emailed to you directly, please let me know. Otherwise, last week's Larson Report can also be viewed on my Web site.

 

Click here to view the Larson Report for January 16, 2014.

 

 

A Year of Action for the Middle Class

On Wednesday, Governor Walker presented his annual State of the State address to both houses of the Legislature. Such speeches often feature cherry-picked statistics that show the current administration in a positive light, while sweeping the concerns of Wisconsinites under the rug. This address was no different from those of the past three years.

 

 

Click here or on the video above to view the Democratic response to the State of the State address.

 

One of the main points the governor touted during his 2014 State of the State, is our projected surplus. In fact, the increasing success of the national economic recovery effort has led to higher than expected tax revenues and projected budget surpluses in nearly every state in the nation, including our very own Wisconsin. This windfall could help Wisconsin to take a step in the right direction, but only if the money is invested wisely.

 

In the past few years, our tax dollars and surpluses have been spent frivolously on the wealthy few while excluding the middle-class majority. Governor Walker's first budget, for example, cut nearly $1 billion from our public schools and technical college system, both of which provide critical job training to our future Wisconsin workers. Additionally, it gave corporations and the super-rich more than $2 billion in tax cuts while raising taxes on seniors and working families to the tune of almost $70 million. Further, between his two budgets Governor Walker can also claim record borrowing, massive increases in debt servicing that kicks the can down the road, and a $725 million structural deficit.

 

It is time to do away with the policies of the past that utilized fund raids and disinvestment in order to build structural deficits, like the one we have before us today. Instead, let us work together to make 2014 a year of action for the middle class. Therefore, my Democratic colleagues and I are asking legislative Republicans and the governor to join us in supporting a middle-class agenda by:

 

  • Emphasizing economic development efforts that create family-supporting jobs

  • Pushing for fair funding for local public schools and accountability for all schools receiving taxpayer money, including voucher schools

  • Making higher education and job training available and affordable, not a path to debt

  • Accepting federal funding to provide better health care access and save taxpayers money

  • Targeting any tax relief directly to the people--the middle class and those struggling to become middle class--who sacrificed to build the surplus

  • Establishing stable, lasting, economic security by addressing Governor Walker's $725 million structural deficit

 

The people of Wisconsin cannot afford to have our state fall even farther behind Minnesota and other states on economic recovery, job creation, fair wages, health care, and education. It is time to reject the failed policies that caused Wisconsin to fall from 11th to 37th nationally in job growth. Instead, we should forge a new path--one that leads us towards prosperity, not poverty, for all. This means investing in our classrooms not corporations, favoring health care over handouts to donors, and prioritizing job creation instead of polarizing proposals.

 

 

Fast Facts

Here are some fast facts about how Wisconsin was able to achieve a surplus this year:

 

  • The national recovery effort has helped most states achieve a surplus.

  • The governor cut nearly $1 billion from our local public schools and technical colleges.

  • Taxes were raised on seniors and working families to the tune of almost $70 million.

  • Republicans kicked the can down the road through record borrowing, creating a $725 million structural deficit. 

 

 

 

Special Needs Voucher Bill Reintroduced

This past Tuesday, Republican legislators reintroduced a controversial bill that would funnel taxpayer funding out of our local public schools and into private schools participating in the unaccountable voucher system. Further, despite these voucher schools taking in special education students, under this bill they will not be required to follow the federal requirements listed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

 

This legislative proposal was introduced previously as a provision in the governor's latest budget and as an individual bill last session. However, both proposals failed in the Legislature. These past proposals would have provided private voucher schools a maximum of $13,593 annually per special needs student, which is more than double the amount awarded for current voucher participants and almost three times the amount the state provides per pupil to our community schools for general aids. While the fiscal estimate for this new proposal has yet to be introduced, it is expected to feature a similar cost estimate to its predecessor.

Lower Education Quality for Special Needs Students
Some of the most concerning issues raised with this proposal deal with the caliber of education that would be provided to children with disabilities in our community. There is currently no provision that would require participating private schools to periodically re-evaluate the individualized education program of a child with special needs. This runs counter to what is currently required of public schools under federal and state laws, which state that a child's individualized education program must, at the very least, be reviewed annually. Keeping individualized education plans up-to-date is vital to our children's education, as it ensures they are being taught in a way that fosters their learning and helps them develop essential life skills.

This bill weakens protections for students even further by not requiring participating private schools to have certified special education or related services personnel on staff to assist and educate any special needs students. In fact, it appears that under this bill, those teaching special education voucher students in private and religious schools would not even be required to hold a college degree. Parents should have some reassurance that their children are in capable hands and being taught by teachers that have the appropriate credentials and necessary experience.

 

Below are some additional concern that were contained in the previously introduced bill that are expected to also be found in this new proposal:

 

  • Does not place a cap on the number
    of students who could enroll as special needs

  • Has no oversight for verifying that a student qualifies as special needs since the school makes its own determination

  • Allows a current voucher student to re-enroll in an attempt to qualify as special needs so schools receive twice what they do now to educate the same student

  • Reduces general aid to public schools districts by the amount of each special needs voucher provided, which means that some districts could be left with fewer resources for services needed by students with disabilities that continue attending our neighborhood schools

  • Is silent on whether a school district's general aid would continue to be reduced if a participating special needs student moves out of that district and into another Wisconsin school district

  • Provides no reimbursement to the state or taxpayers if participating private schools accept the special needs voucher, but do not provide the necessary services

  • The overly high funding reimbursement rate for participating schools would likely force public schools to raid other funds to fulfill their obligations

 

The Case of LifeSkills Academy

As was mentioned last week, LifeSkills Academy, a private K-8 school participating in the voucher program, abruptly closed this December. As a result, students--including voucher program participants--were forced to relocate to other schools. Despite closing, however, the school was still able to collect $202,278 in taxpayer-funded voucher payments for the school year, which DPI is prohibited from recouping. Instead, DPI can only halt future payments. With the case of LifeSkills Academy, they received half of their funding payments already, but only educated the children under their care for three and a half months out of the nine-and-a-half-month school year. It was also noted in a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article that "no students attending LifeSkills were proficient in reading or math in 2012-13, except for a single fourth-grade student, according to the state achievement test score results."
 

Since last week's Larson Report, new information has come to light showing that the operators of this school--who collected more than $2 million in public tax dollars since joining the voucher program in the 2008-09 school year--have since relocated to Florida, where they are operating a special needs voucher school. Sadly, there are schools that treat our children as a money-making venture. As long as our voucher program remains unaccountable, Wisconsin's parents and children remain susceptible to being swindled by the fly-by-night schools, like LifeSkills Academy.

 

Study After Study Confirms Voucher Failure
Yet another study was recently released factually proving that voucher students fare no better and often worse than their public school counterparts. The study, released by the American Educational Research Journal and the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, has conclusions that are nothing short of shocking, especially with regards to the handling of special education students. Below are the findings:
 

  • Most students who transfer from the voucher program back into public schools realize significant achievement gains after doing so. Such achievement growth is even more significant for low-performing students. This statistic highlights that students who return to MPS truly do better once they are back in public school.

  • Voucher schools are less likely to identify and assist students who require special education. This means that children needing greater assistance are left behind.

  • Parental dissatisfaction was the most common reason cited by parents for students leaving the voucher program. Next in line was inadequate handling of special needs students. Such results verify that voucher schools do not always live up to the hype they have created and are frequently found to be a worse option for our children than traditional public schools.


Increased Burden on Taxpayers

Communities that have voucher programs in place, including our own, have seen the financial burden it places on their local property taxes. In 2013, state law compelled Milwaukee Public Schools to levy $51.9 million in taxes to subsidize the private schools making up the unaccountable voucher program, which amounts to 22.6% of the total Milwaukee Public Schools tax levy--an increase from the previous year. Due to policy changes in the last Republican budget, the total cost of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program rose significantly this past year to more than $161 million when taking local taxes and the state's share into account. With the expansion of vouchers statewide and the increased numbers of independently-run, but taxpayer-funded charter schools, taxpayers around the state are spending $519 million annually on schools that have little accountability and transparency to the public. In truth, Milwaukee taxpayers are now being billed for both the largest school district in the state, Milwaukee Public Schools, AND the fourth largest, as the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has grown to almost 25,000 students.

 

This legislation would again increase that financial burden. Similar legislation introduced last session was slated to cost the state at least $80 million annually. This number would further balloon as more children with special needs participate in the program. While a fiscal estimate has yet to be released for the updated proposal, we expect it will carry a similar fiscal estimate to past proposals.

 

I will be sure to closely monitor this legislation. Should it remain relatively unchanged from similar proposals introduced previously, I will be sure to oppose it if it reaches the Senate floor for a vote before session ends this spring.
 

 

Fighting to Close the Income Gap

During session last week, my Democratic colleagues and I used procedural rules to bring legislation, Senate Bill 4, which would increase the minimum wage for Wisconsin's workers, to a vote. Under this proposal, the current minimum wage would be increased from $7.25 per hour to a very modest $7.60 per hour. Although this bill was introduced a year ago, Republicans have yet to schedule a public hearing leaving it stalled in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. While every Democratic senator voted "yes" to raising the minimum wage, every Republican senator voted against it. As a result, this bill failed.

There is currently record income disparity between the rich and American workers. An analysis of Internal Revenue Service data found that in 2012, the very wealthiest Americans earned more than 19% of the country's household income--their biggest share since 1928. Further, the top 10% of earners captured a record 48.2% of the total earnings that year. This inequality is especially noticeable to minimum wage workers. According to www.whitehouse.gov, workers making the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, including those in Wisconsin, only bring in $14,500 annually despite working full-time. This includes our family, friends, and neighbors working in the food industry, sales, office administration, health care, farming, and construction. It is unacceptable that there are Wisconsinites working full-time who are experiencing poverty rather than the American Dream.

The benefits of adopting a higher minimum wage are vast. For example, such an increase ensures that low wage workers are rewarded fairly by their employers with pay close to a living wage. Additionally, strengthening the middle class through a modest minimum wage increase is economically proven to reduce poverty without jeopardizing employment, which means a stronger Wisconsin economy.

Had Wisconsin voted to adopt this common sense measure, it would have joined 13 other states that adopted higher minimum wages for 2014. Below is a list of these states and their adopted minimum wages.

Arizona: $7.90
California: $9.00
Colorado: $8.00
Connecticut: $8.70
Florida: $7.93
Missouri: $7.50
Montana: $7.90
New Jersey: $8.25
Ohio: $7.95
Oregon: $9.10
Rhode Island: $8.00
Vermont: $8.73
Washington: $9.32

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama also called for bringing the federal minimum wage in line with where it was at under former President Ronald Regan. This means increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour to account for inflation. President Obama has also asked Congress to permanently index the minimum wage to inflation to prevent similar erosions to the nation's minimum wage in the future. The president's proposal to raise the minimum wage would directly boost earnings for 15 million workers. Further, it means that a working family earning between $20,000 and $30,000 annually would have an additional $3,500 in income to take home each year. That is enough to cover one year of groceries, one year of utilities, or six months of housing.

My colleagues and I are not giving up on this opportunity to rebuild Wisconsin's middle class by increasing the minimum wage. We will continue to fight for our neighbors and their families trying to achieve the American dream in Wisconsin.

 

 

Ask Chris

I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.

Q: I have heard that Governor Walker and Republican legislators plan on eliminating the income tax. What sort of impact would that plan have on our other taxes, such as the sales tax?

A: Recently, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch held a closed-door meeting in Beloit with wealthy business owners and CEOs to ask them what taxes they would like to see cut. These corporate bosses expressed going further than the current system of tax cuts for businesses, even if that company does not owe any taxes for the year. Governor Walker has also voiced similar sentiments in the lead-up to his 2014 State of the State address, where he suggested increasing the sales and use tax in order to alter Wisconsin's income tax code through dramatic cuts or full elimination.

Given the proposed tax changes being examined by both the lieutenant governor and the governor, I have contacted the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) to determine how Wisconsin's other tax rates could be affected if we were to eliminate the state income tax and the corporate income and franchise tax. According to LFB's findings, if Wisconsin's individual income tax were eliminated and the revenue loss was replaced by increasing the sales tax statewide, the Legislature would need to increase the current sales tax rate of 5% to 13.3%. Similarly, if both the individual income tax and the corporate income and franchise tax were repealed, the sales tax rate would have to increase from 5% to 14.4% to fully recover the lost revenue that results from this change.

Wondering how a 13.3% or 14.4% sales tax rate for Wisconsin would compare to other states? Both rates would ensure Wisconsin being ranked No. 1 for highest state sales tax in the nation by nearly double. The next closest state would be California, which has a state sales tax rate of 7.5%. This is far different than from where Wisconsin currently ranks, as there are 30 states that have higher state sales tax rates than we do here.

It is important to remember that such tax cuts have a wide impact. If we decrease or eliminate the state income tax or the corporate income and franchise tax, then we have to recoup those funds from somewhere else. This means either increasing the state sales tax rate or the property tax rate, or making additional cuts to vital community programs such as our local public schools, affordable health care, or public transit. Every proposal has its cost--even tax cuts.
 

 

Join Me at Upcoming Community Meetings

I will be hosting a number of town halls during February 2014. Attending these listening sessions is a great opportunity to talk to me about issues facing our community and state, or to listen to the concerns and thoughts of our neighbors.

The information for these events is listed below. I also advertise these by posting on my Web site, Facebook, Twitter, via neighborhood groups, with media alerts, and through direct emails.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office for additional information.

Monday, February 3, 2014

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park (MAP)

Community Room
1500 E. Park Place
Milwaukee, WI 53211

(Representative Jon Richards and Alderman Nik Kovac also attending)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
South Milwaukee Public Library (MAP)
1907 10th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
 

 

Did You Know...?

You may know that the annual State of the State address was delivered at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison this week. But did you know that our current Capitol building was not the first Capitol building in Wisconsin?

 

The first Wisconsin Capitol building was built in Belmont, Wisconsin as a place of business for the Wisconsin Territorial Government. Here, lawmakers met from October 25, 1936, through December 9, 1836, to pass 42 laws, establish a judicial system, and create roads and railroads. Most significantly, they also declared that Madison would be Wisconsin's permanent capital city. Construction for the first Capitol building in Madison began in 1837 and cost $60,000.
 

 

January is National Blood Donor Month

January has been designated National Blood Donor Month for an important reason. According to the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals, blood is traditionally in short supply during the winter months due to harsh weather, illness, and holidays, making January an especially difficult month to collect blood donations. A decrease in the number of donations can lead to blood shortages, which can put our family, friends, and neighbors in the hospital at risk.

According to the American Red Cross, more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day to meet the needs of our country's hospital patients. Because only 38% of the United States population is eligible to give blood, it is crucial that every eligible donor gives blood as often as possible. Though all blood types are needed, Type O-Negative red blood cells and Type AB-Positive plasma are in the highest demand because they can be transfused to patients with any blood type. Therefore, they are often used in emergencies before the patient's blood type is known and also for newborns. Unfortunately, these blood types are in short supply because only 7% of people in the U.S. have O-Negative blood type and only 3% of people have AB-Positive blood type.

Donating blood is a safe and simple four-step process, which includes: registration, completing a medical history and mini-physical, donation, and refreshments. The actual blood donation portion typically takes 10-12 minutes, while the entire process takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days.

All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases before it is released to hospitals. After the blood is donated, it is delivered to a Red Cross blood component laboratory where it is processed into several components to be used in a variety of different situations. Donated blood is most often used for emergency situations, surgery, organ transplants, births, cancer patients, and patients with blood disorders, such as anemia.

One donation can help save the lives of up to three people. Additionally, if you begin donating blood at age 17 (the minimum age) and donate every 56 days until you reach 76, you will have donated a total of 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping to save more than 1,000 lives.

Click here or to find an American Red Cross blood center near you to donate.

You can also call the American Red Cross directly at 1-800-733-2767 to schedule an appointment or inquire about upcoming blood drives.
 

 

Sign the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Petition

Exponential increases in tuition and fees coupled with challenging economic times over the years have made it nearly impossible for students to work their way through school, as was commonplace in the past. In fact, nearly 40 million Americans now hold over $1.2 trillion in student loan debt nationally.
 

Wisconsin's Student Debt Crisis
Unfortunately, Wisconsin currently ranks 10th in the nation for number of college students with debt, with 67% of graduates from four-year schools having loans to repay. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve System there are 753,000 Wisconsin residents with federal student loan debt (this does not include those with private student loan debt). Further, college tuition costs have doubled over the last 12 years and Wisconsin's student loan borrowers have an average debt of $22,400. It is estimated that Wisconsin residents paying student loans from obtaining a bachelor's degree are currently paying an average of $388 per month for about 18.7 years.

Student debt is the only kind of household debt that continued to rise through the Great Recession, and is now the second largest consumer debt in our country, more than credit cards or auto loans. Having this money tied up in debt is a huge drain on our already struggling Wisconsin economy as the money spent on student loans could instead be spent on cars, new homes, and at local businesses in our communities.

 

Some issues related to student loans can only be dealt with at the federal level. Unfortunately, Congress' current partisan gridlock leaves little hope for real relief for student loan borrowers in the near future. We cannot wait for Congress to act. It is time for innovative, common sense solutions that will provide real relief for Wisconsin's student loan borrowers.

Therefore, I am asking that the Wisconsin State Legislature passes the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill, authored by Senator Dave Hansen and Representative Cory Mason, which would do the following:

 

  • Allow Wisconsin's student loan borrowers to deduct their student loan payments from their income tax, resulting in annual tax savings of approximately $172 for the typical borrower or as much as $392.

  • Enable Wisconsin's student loan borrowers to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates, putting potentially hundreds of dollars back in their pockets and into Wisconsin's economy annually. For example, a borrower with an interest rate of 6.8% and the average University of Wisconsin graduate's loan debt of $27,000 who could lower their interest rate to 4% could save over $40 per month. That would put nearly $500 back in their family's pocket over the course of a year.

  • Provide students and parents with detailed information about student loans, the best and worst private lenders, and ensure that students receive loan counseling so that Wisconsin's student loan borrowers can make informed financial decisions about student loans.

  • Ensure data is collected and tracked about student loan debt in Wisconsin to help policymakers and the public better understand the depth and breadth of the debt crisis in our state.

 

As you can see, this legislation offers common sense solutions for real savings on behalf of Wisconsinites managing student loan debt. I hope legislative Republicans will see the economic value of moving forward with such a proposal. Therefore, I encourage them to join me in supporting the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill. Wisconsinites cannot afford to wait any longer for more affordable college education and decreasing their debt burden.

 

Sign the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Petition

If you would like to see the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill become law, I encourage you to sign onto the Higher Ed, Lower Debt petition. The petition states the following:

I support the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill authored by Sen. Hansen and Rep. Mason. It is a positive step forward in making higher education more affordable in Wisconsin and frees up money for Wisconsinites to spend in local communities and our state.
 

Click here if you would like join me in supporting the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill by signing on to the petition to encourage the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass the bill.


I also encourage you to tell your family, friends, and neighbors to join you in taking action. The more Wisconsinites that advocate for the bill, the more likely it is to pass.

 

 

Take the 2013-2014 Neighborhood Survey

I created a survey for the 2013-2014 Legislative Session asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. The input of neighbors is greatly appreciated. My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many surveys door to door as possible before winter arrives. In addition, I have also made this survey available online.

Click here to download and print a copy of this survey, which you can return to my office via mail, email, or fax upon completion.

Click here to save a stamp and take the survey online.

I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues!

 

 

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