One Wisconsin Now Blog

November 2011 Archives

Massive changes caused massive $1 trillion in student loan debt.

Earlier this month The Institute for College Access and Success released a new bi-partisan survey revealing that young adults aged 18-34 find that a college degree is more important that ever before, but that it is also harder to afford.  

About 76% of respondents find college harder to afford in the past five years and 73% think that graduates have unmanageable amounts of student debt. Given this, about 80% still find higher education more important than a generation ago.

The most telling aspect of the study is that at least 70% of young Republicans, Democrats and Independents all agree that making higher education more affordable should be priorities for Congress. Education has continually fallen in rank as a national priority, despite the fact that in today's work environment a college degree has become par for the course, and the effects of this are indiscriminate of political ideology.

However, it didn't always used to be this way. Fundamental change to the lending system in the 1990s and critical changes to bankruptcy law in 2005 gave lenders the upper hand. Lenders now face very little risk on the money they lend, have unprecedented powers for collection & can count on student loans to not be discharged through bankruptcy.

This is why young adults today find college education harder to afford today than it was for the previous generation. A 1970 minimum wage earner would need to work 14 hours a week to earn enough money to pay for public schooling. Today's minimum wage earner would need to work 35 hours a week to pay for public schooling.

In 2010, the average cost for an in-state public college averaged 20,339. This of course not only includes tuition, but also room & board, books, school supplies, transportation and other things that drive total college costs up higher and make them harder to pay off with a part-time job. Obviously, a student taking on a full course load could not possibly meet 35 working hours a week. However, if they were somehow able to work the full 35 hours a week (at the minimum wage rate of $7.25), every week, a student would still only make about $13,000 in a calendar year. This doesn't come close to being enough for students to cover the full costs of what it takes to obtain a college degree. If working a job while attending a public school wont cover college costs, imagine attending a private school like Marquette University and coping with that tab, where the annual total costs of attendance is $39,676, just under the national average for private schools.

Today's student is feeling financial pressures that students in the last generation did not. The average tuition at public four-year colleges and universities is $5,836, a 268% increase from 1976-77. Private education has risen to $22,218 since then, a 248% increase. Despite this, student grants have declined sharply, covering only 39% of college costs compared to 80% of costs in the mid-1970s. Today's student hears stories from parents about how they went to school and were able to afford it because of assistance like the Pell Grant. Because college costs are rising so quickly, the maximum Pell Grant now covers only about a third of the average costs of attending a public university, compared with three-quarters in the 1970s, when the program began.

Students have had to make up the gap in costs with student loans. In 2007-08 53% of full-time students borrowed to finance college, compared with 34% in 1977.  High tuition rates, increases in borrowing and the changes to the law regulating the lending industry, has resulted in the crisis we see today as the nation's total student loan debt will reach $1 trillion before the end of the year.

A college degree is now expected of students entering the workforce, but it does not guarantee earnings that will be needed to pay off the increasing cost of the degree. Things have changed so much that en mass students are now going deep into unmanageable debt to obtain a degree, something that was unheard of for the previous generation.

The lobbyists of the lending industry, whose influence over the last 30 years has compromised the education system, have created a world in which 18 year old freshman take on a lifetime of financial burden before they even get started out on their life journey.

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For pure political brazenness, the new legislative and congressional maps drawn by Republicans may be without parallel in Wisconsin.
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Today's topic is whether Republicans should now be allowed to change the rules so that their "new and improved" district maps can be used in the expected recall elections next year. We don't think they should.
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Republicans wrote the law so that the new maps took effect immediately for representation but not until the fall of next year for elections. For obvious reasons, some of those same Republicans now facing recall would like to run in the new districts. The courts shouldn't let them.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

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Gov. Scott Walker and right-wing blogosphere have made a nemesis out of Illinois, citing its "job-killing" tax policy of actually ensuring corporations and the rich pay their fair share, compared to here in Wisconsin Walker and the GOP majority have handed out $2.3 billion in tax breaks to corporations and the rich.

The numbers are in, and they don't look good... for Walker or Wisconsin: we lost 9,700 jobs in October -- a record loss -- while Illinois managed to lead the nation by creating 30,000 jobs.

There's an important economic lesson here somewhere, whatever it is, it's completely lost on Scott Walker and his "VP of marketing" Rebecca Kleefisch.

[Capital Times]

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CIRCULATING RECALL PETITION: To circulate a recall petition, you need to meet the qualifications of an elector in Wisconsin (citizen, 18 years or older, not a felon actively serving a sentence).  To circulate a petition, however, you do not need to be a Wisconsin resident.

SIGNING RECALL PETITION: To sign a recall petition, you must be a qualified elector in Wisconsin and reside in the district of the official who is the subject of the petition.  (For Governor/Lt. Governor, this means you need to reside in Wisconsin.  For a petition to recall a state senator, you must reside in the district in which the senator was elected.)

You do not need a government-issued photo identification to circulate or sign a recall petition (but you will need a photo ID to vote in the next election).

You do not need to be a registered voter to circulate or sign a recall petition.

As long as you are a qualified elector in Wisconsin, you can sign a recall petition whether or not you have ever voted in Wisconsin.

You do not need to be a member of a political party to circulate or sign a recall petition.

You can circulate or sign a recall petition even if you have outstanding debts or obligations, such as parking tickets, child support payments, or taxes.

You can circulate or sign a recall petition even if you have already signed another recall petition (note, however, that only one signature per person will be counted). 

You cannot lose your government benefits for signing a recall petition.  

Recall petition signatures must be dated.

The address given by the person signing must be the residential address (not PO Box).

DESTROYING RECALL PETITION: It is illegal to collect signatures in an effort to sabotage a recall effort.  

It is illegal to falsify any information in respect to a recall petition.

It is illegal to deface a recall petition.

It is illegal to destroy a recall petition.

Any of the above constitutes a Class I felony, which carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 and up to 3 ½ years in jail.  Wis. Stat. §§ 12.13(3)(a); 12.60(1)(a).

[PDF version]

Group Also Provides Information to Dispel Myths about Participation

In response to reports of alleged plans to illegally destroy recall petitions, One Wisconsin Now has established a $10,000 reward fund for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of any individual guilty of fraudulently destroying or defacing recall petitions from today until the end of the recall gathering process on January 14, 2012. The fraudulent destruction or defacement of a recall petition is in violation of Wis. Stat. § 12.13(3)(a) and, as the Government Accountability Board has recently made clear, a Class I felony.

"We cannot allow democracy to be threatened by those who would illegally destroy recall petitions with valid signatures on them," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "We intend to keep the public informed about its rights during the signature gathering process and alert those who would engage in illegal conduct that they do so at their own peril."

In addition to the $10,000 Reward Fund, One Wisconsin Now is providing information to ensure those who wish to sign and/or circulate recall petitions know their rights. The memo is available here.

"This information will help combat any scurrilous myths being disseminated about who is eligible to sign and circulate recall petitions," said Ross. "We will continue to monitor all fronts on this fight to ensure people's rights are protected."

The terms of One Wisconsin Now's $10,000 Reward Fund are as follows:

  • The total amount of the reward fund is $10,000.
  • The individual must provide the information to One Wisconsin Now as part of a sworn affidavit.
  • To collect the reward the person need not become involved in the prosecution or appear as a witness at the trial.
  • The information must be adequate and timely; if someone has surrendered, or the information was already known when the person provided it, no reward will be given. One Wisconsin Now's reward fund will cover information regarding petition destruction or defacing from November 22, 2011 and January 14, 2012.
  • If the information does not lead to the arrest and conviction, the reward will be denied.
  • If a reward is claimed, One Wisconsin Now will make the final determination regarding any payment.
  • In the event of separate incidents, One Wisconsin Now may pay portions of the reward to two or more persons.
  • In the event One Wisconsin Now receives affidavits from more than one person about a specific incident, any reward funds will only be provided to the first person submitting an affidavit.
  • No individual serving on the jury of a case in which a successful prosecution for recall petition destruction occurs is eligible for reward funds.
  • No district attorney, deputy district attorney assistant district attorney or public official is eligible for reward funds.

 

 

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Gov. Scott Walker would like to think that his agenda has been good for Wisconsin schools. He issued a release on Monday claiming just that. But as the Capital Times points out today, he is actually -- and perhaps unknowingly -- acknowledging that his reforms are not working for schools.

Among the effects of Walker's attack on Wisconsin schools, as pointed out by the CT:

One in four school districts (25 percent) that responded to the survey had been forced to increase class sizes for kindergartners and children in first, second and third grade.

One in three districts (33 percent) had been forced to increase the class sizes for children in fourth through sixth grade.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of school districts have cut special education staff, meaning that children with disabilities will have fewer aides and that teachers will have a harder time balancing the demands and needs of all children in their classrooms.

[Capital Times]

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The ad features recently elected Waukesha School Board member Karin Sue Rajnicek praising Walker's education reforms.
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The head of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, though, chided Walker's team for using a political newcomer to praise Walker's proposals.

"It's no surprise that someone from the most Republican part of Wisconsin, who is specifically opposed to rights for workers and has only a few months of school board experience, would say what Walker is doing is working," said Scot Ross, executive director of the Madison-based group.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

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Wisconsin has a Republican governor, a Republican majority in the state Senate, and a Republican majority in the state Assembly, not to mention a conservative stronghold in the State Supreme Court. Yet, the GOP is claiming they are powerless to pass any key job creation legislation this session:

Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans who control the Legislature touted the recent three-week floor period as a jobs session. But much of the focus was on other issues, such as where to allow guns in the Capitol and letting schools teach abstinence-only sex education courses.

But even the right wing IS claiming they're creating jobs, they're not. After handing out $2.3 billion in tax breaks to corporations and the rich, still unemployment increased under their watch. 

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Let's #OccupyWalker

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Scott Walker and Wall Street share a common agenda: destroy the middle class while protecting the interests of big corporations and the rich.

But we're fighting back.

On Monday November 14, One Wisconsin Now will launch #OccupyWalker -- an online movement to publicize the disastrous policies of the pro-corporate, anti-middle class Scott Walker administration.

#OccupyWalker will flood social networks with the truth about every aspect of Scott Walker's disastrous agenda, with the scores of facts uncovered by the One Wisconsin Now reseach team and the individual stories of working Wisconsin families personally harmed by Walker's anti-middle class schemes.

It's been over two years since Scott Walker stepped into the spotlight and started laying out his Koch-funded, pro-corporate agenda. The list of Walker's failures seems endliess: from his early failure to report information on $500,000 worth of his top campaign contributors, to spending 20 minutes on the phone with who he thought was billionaire David Koch talking about stripping away the rights of 175,000 Wisconsin workers, to his most recent decision to cut 65,000 of our state's most vulnerable residents - including 29,000 children -- off health care.

Then there's this latest piece we just uncovered. In 2006 during first run for governor, Walker made some pretty bold campaign promises, including this one:

"Scott Walker will not accept any campaign contributions (from any source) from the time he takes office (January 3, 2007) until the state budget is signed into law. (100 Day Agenda)" [Link to source]

Now consider this: from the time Scott Walker took office on January 3, 2011 to the time the budget was signed on June 26, 2011, Walker received $2,174,501.39 in campaign money. That would be a $2 million broken promise to the people of Wisconsin. This is all not to mention the latest campaign finance scheme, where a GOP donor nefariously filed recall petition, allowing Walker to begin raising unlimited campaign money.

So, as a service to the people of Wisconsin, #OccupyWalker will take to Twitter @ Twitter.com/OccupyWalker every single hour for one week to remind the people Wisconsin of a past indiscretion of Walker and his GOP allies in the legislature.

Many more days of action are planned. Stay tuned at Facebook.com/OneWisconsinNow and Twitter.com/OccupyWalker

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Gov. Scott Walker continues to choose corporate special interest donors over the people of Wisconsin -- offering a scheme that would cut health care for 65,000 Wisconsinites to pay off part of his $2.3 billion in new tax breaks for corporations and the rich passed since he took office.

Scot Ross, Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now had this to say:

"Gov. Walker's corporate special interest agenda has cost us our kids' public education, our workers their rights and now add health care for 65,000 to the list. None of these cuts would be necessary if Walker didn't give $2.3 billion in tax breaks to corporations and the rich."

Gov. Scott Walker's now denying the results in Ohio have any bearing on Wisconsin, but back in February when a prankster pretending to be David Koch called his phone, Walker spilled the beans about connecting with other anti-union, Republican governors:

WALKER: That's all they wanna talk is what are you doing to help in the governor in Wisconsin. Next I talked to Kasich every day, you know John's got to stand firm in Ohio. I think we can do the same thing with Rick Scott in Florida, I think Snyder if he got a little more support could probably do that in Michigan. We start going down the list, you know, there's a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something, big.

CALLER:  You're the first domino

WALKER:  Yep. This is our moment.

A new video highlights the fact that "Despite already declaring himself a candidate for Wisconsin's open Senate seat, former Gov. Tommy Thompson has refused to disclose his business interests and lobbying firm clients to the state's voters."

We took Thompson to task in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for just this reason:

Thompson hasn't had to disclose his financial interests yet in federal candidate filings.

But groups like the liberal One Wisconsin Now were calling for him to do that Monday.

Thompson "owes the people a full list of which interests he'll still be doing business with during his campaign and which ones he'll be accepting contributions from for the work he's done. The public deserves to know if his upcoming comprehensive campaign proposals would help these groups," said Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin.

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Here are some clips from various newspapers criticizing Scott Walker and the GOP majority for refusing to do anything of substance about Wisconsin's rising unemployment during their so-called special jobs session:

From the Sheboygan Press:

[T]he biggest news out of the session was the passage of the "castle" bill that gives presumed immunity to people who shoot someone who is breaking into their home.

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[M]ost jobs are created out of a customer demand for a product or service, not from a tax break.

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And there was nothing coming from the special session on job creation that would put money into the hands of consumers.

 

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

It was sadly fitting the way the state Legislature stumbled and bumbled its way to closure late last week, fighting for hours on end about something that had been decided more than a year earlier.

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Much of the blame for the lackluster effort has to fall with the Republicans, who control both chambers. 

Heck even the oft-far right editorial page at the Beloit Daily News said Republicans flunked the test of leadership:

THE WISCONSIN ASSEMBLY'S chaotic late-night dysfunction moves state government toward a fitting conclusion for the so-called "Back to Work Wisconsin special session."

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This session hasn't been a total washout for business-friendly legislation, but day-in and day-out there have been more skirmishes over social and procedural measures than any real action to generate economic progress.

The GOP has complete control over all branches of government: Governor, the state Senate, and state Assembly (and even the Supreme Court). Conservatives have never had a good idea on how to create jobs or protect the middle class; the lackluster GOP jobs session proves it.

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While Republicans claim they're focused "like a laser" on job creation during the so-called special jobs session, Zach at Blogging Blue has compiled a list of these bills pushed by Republicans. Ask yourself how many jobs each of these would create:

  • Passed AB 69, a bill implementing the "Castle Doctrine" providing immunity to property owners using lethal force against an intruder.
  • Passed SB 237, a bill allowing school districts to teach abstinence-only sex education instead of a more comprehensive sex education program.
  • Passed a bill creating an elected comptroller office in Milwaukee County.
  • Passed a bill that would stipulate that property owners are not liable for trespassers on their property.

But wait, there's more. Check them out at the link below.

[Blogging Blue]

With University of Wisconsin Badgers' football returning to Camp Randall Saturday after a several week road trip, One Wisconsin Now supporters will also be returning to the skies above with a message about the failure of Gov. Scott Walker and its impact on students. This week's banner that will fly overhead for the two hours preceding kickoff: "Walker = Higher Tuition <3 One WI Now."

Students are already facing $1 trillion in debt and Scott Walker's massive tuition hikes are going to add hundreds of millions of dollars in more debt to that staggering number. Gov. Walker is paying for new tax breaks to corporations by jacking tuition for UW students.

The Walker biennial budget slashed $250 million from the University of Wisconsin and $70 million from the technical college system. Walker also demanded hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cuts. This includes a total tuition hike of more than $100 million for UW students over the next two years. The technical college cut tops 30 percent. [Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 6/13/11]

In the past ten months, Walker and the Republicans have also gutted public education by $1.6 billion, are set to cut 53,000 Wisconsinites from access to health care, and actually raised taxes on seniors and working families by $70 million. All the while, taking away the rights of 175,000 Wisconsin workers.

Walker's moves have come as Wisconsin's unemployment rate has risen nearly a half percent since he took office and the state has 14,000 more people on unemployment.

Our state remains torn apart because of Gov. Walker's actions. Our students are paying the price because Gov. Walker values campaign contributions from big corporate special interests more than the future of this state.

One Wisconsin Now's online community supported a banner during the Badgers' big football victory against Nebraska. The message on that banner: "RecallScottWalker.org <3 One WI Now."

More information about Walker's failure can be found at www.WalkerFailure.com

 

 

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Perhaps hearing how serious the GOP isn't about creating jobs during the so-called special jobs session, Dana Holding Corp., an auto parts manufacturer, is closing its doors and moving to Kentucky.

The closure will take place at the end of next year or in early 2013, a company official said.

It will result in the loss of about 165 jobs, including 150 represented by the United Auto Workers Local 9.

Instead of handing out billion-dollar tax breaks to corporations and the rich under the guise of job creation, Gov. Walker and Republican majority should (but they won't) look at real factors affecting middle-class consumers. E.g., Car sales are sluggish, and with student loan debt topping $1 trillion a whole generation of young people can't participate in economic recovery.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

The bigoted attitudes stirred up by a conservative think tank in September have apparently spilled over into November. With no real ideas on how to create jobs, Gov. Scott Walker's Republican majority and Democrat Peggy Krusick turned to pushing archaic legislation one would expect from the deep south: a bill that would "remove race as one factor for a scholarship program that serves disadvantaged college students."

This all poses an interesting dilemma for Walker.

During his 2008 Milwaukee County Exectuive campaign against Lena Taylor, an African American state senator, Walker reached out to the African American community to shore up some votes. In this unearthed 2008 video, Walker went on a local television program and clearly says he considers diversity as grounds for hiring, and "actively went out recruited more women, more people of color."

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The Green Bay Press-Gazette has taken to the editorial page to air a grievance with the Republican majority deciding that the public cannot bring cameras into the legislative galleries, but will allow guns:

Both the Assembly and Senate have maintained rules that prohibit the use of cameras, cell phones and video equipment in the public galleries. The Assembly last week voted down a proposed resolution that would have allowed visitors to carry signs into the legislative galleries.
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By disallowing the cameras, the Legislature is turning its back on the First Amendment rights of free speech and expression.
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We find it curious the same elected officials seem to have little concern about the presence of concealed weapons in the legislative chambers.
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It is clear that lawmakers have a greater fear of cameras than they do of weapons. But shutting out the public from legislative proceedings flies in the face of public government and shouldn't be allowed.

The whole editorial is worth a read, and highlights the blatant hypocrisy of the GOP on fundamental rights and public accountability.

[Green Bay Press-Gazette]