Preface to a Problem: You’d have to be an idiot not to see the connection between education and our state's future economic growth. And yet that’s just what Scott Walker missed at a time when a massive influx of displaced workers needed financial aid to get retraining at our technical colleges and universities.
Spending Cut Mantra: Walker was so focused on spending cuts that when a program wasn't cut, Democrats and Wisconsinites celebrated. So no one thought to demand an increase to the state's financial aid program:
jsonline: Dan Clancy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System (said), "Thousands of displaced Wisconsin workers need retraining to succeed in the jobs being created in emerging and rapidly changing industries." Walker recommends preserving the existing level of financial aid funding for technical college students. That move recognizes technical college graduates "are critical to building a strong future for our state," Clancy said.
Today: The following story is breathtaking and shows how little Walker’s austerity agenda is tethered to reality. It’s pure ideology. Nearly 42,000 Wisconsin students were denied financial help, with a majority of those seeking out our technical colleges:
WPR: The state's nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau; about 3,581 UW students and 37,844 technical college applicants were denied financial assistance during the past year. That's because the $58-million program ran out of money.
Despite warnings from Democratic legislators, Republicans went ahead and cut the state’s economic throat by not providing additional funding to the student assistance program. The media still won't take Democratic warnings seriously until a Republican jumps on board:
State Sen. Jennifer Schilling is the ranking Senate Democrat on the Legislature's committee on universities and technical colleges. She said the Walker administration and state Republicans are to blame. "We have not kept pace," she said. "We've made the choice that that's not been a priority in our state budget."
The statement that follows is nothing short of moronic. And the first order of business; defend Walker:
Sherrie Nelson, the administrative policy advisor at the state's Higher Educational Aids Board, which administers the grants, said funding levels haven't been cut under Gov. Scott Walker's tenure … but she said that demand for financial support has increased.
"There's a lot of people that have lost their jobs so they've had to go back and get some additional training," Nelson said. "So, that's why we've seen the increased enrollments." The Higher Educational Aids Board is planning to ask for a $6-million budget increase for the first year of the next biennial state budget to accommodate those increased applications.
We're only two biennial budgets behind on this no-brainer. And all of this was on top of the other big cut that produced student protests statewide at local technical colleges:
Journal Times: Democratic State Rep. Cory Mason confirmed that state funding for technical education has been cut 30 percent in the state budget, back to the funding levels in the mid-1980s. Republican State Sen. Van Wanggaard, express(ed) disappointment, “The protesters decided this event should have been about their agenda."So who was it that didn't have a clue and has mismanaged our state's recovery?