UW System funding debate has Republicans divided

UW Oshkosh building entrance
UW-Oshkosh campus (WBAY photo)

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) – Governor Scott Walker’s plan to cut tuition across the board within the UW System is facing some opposition from members of his own party, who instead support an effort to boost funding for financial aid.

After four years of imposing a tuition freeze across the UW system Gov.t Walker now wants to cut tuition by five percent — at a cost of $35 million.

It’s money some fellow Republicans, like Rep. John Nygren, feel might be better used elsewhere.

“I would prefer to see us — and I think I’m hearing that from a lot of my colleagues as well — more of a targeted approach where we target dollars to programs that can help students graduate within their four year period and also target dollars towards financial aid,” said Nygren, a Republican from Marinette.

Nygren is the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, which is charged with the review of all state appropriations and revenues.

He says providing more financial aid will help students who need it the most.

However, Democrats argue those graduating with loans also need assistance.

“He talks about the people currently in college and helping them, but those million people that owe 19 billion dollars. What a great way to grow the economy. But he hates my bill, and I think it’s something that’s necessary,” said Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay.

Rep. Dave Murphy, a Republican from the Town of Greenville, disagreed.

He said, “When you look at other states that are doing refinancing programs, you’re going to find that very few students loans are really refinanced. Sometimes less than a thousand refinances. This is not going to help lots of people. Reducing cost is what helps every student.”

The budget will go before the Joint Committee on Finance next month and those lawmakers will hold public hearings.

A lot can change before the final vote.

We welcome comments and civil discussions.

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