U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis., is certainly not pinning his gubernatorial hopes on the votes of Wisconsin’s college students.
Green, one of the Republicans challenging Gov. Jim Doyle in November’s election, voted earlier this month to slash student aid subsidies by an unprecedented amount. Green’s Feb. 1 vote against students allowed the budget to pass the House by the narrowest of margins, a 216-214 vote. President Bush happily signed the student aid cuts into law a week later, which marked the largest cut to federal student aid in the program’s history.
Thanks to Mark Green—and other Republicans in Washington—student loan subsidies will now reduced by nearly $12 billion over the next five years. How will these cuts be achieved? The interest rate cap that parents pay on many of their students’ college loans will rise from 7.9 percent to 8.5 percent. Student and parent borrowers will also be required to continue paying excessive, above-market interest rates on other student loans in many cases.
Still, the main concern for students should be that a man who wants to be our next governor cares more about giving tax breaks to the very richest Americans than he does about helping students afford a college education. Usually when politicians cut money from popular programs, they cite budgetary constraints as their justification. However, Green can’t even do that with this decision.
Fortunately, there are leaders who are addressing the financial situation facing students, rather than making it worse. In his State of the State address last month, Gov. Doyle proposed the “Wisconsin Covenant,” a plan to provide students from less fortunate economic backgrounds with college educations.
Green, who openly opposes the Wisconsin Covenant, has made his legislative priorities quite clear to college students. Fortunately, Gov. Doyle will be on the ballot again next November, giving us the opportunity to re-elect a leader who understands how to help college students.
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