One Wisconsin Now Executive Director, Scot Ross, appeared Sunday on MSNBC's Melissa Harris Perry show to comment on the unfair revenues of CEOs make in comparison to their workers, many of whom are middle aged workers trying to support families.
One Wisconsin Now Blog
Executive Director Scot Ross talked about student loan debt on Sunday's Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC. He emphasized that this is not the borrowers fault, and without relief, there will be long-term effects on the economy.
GOP Front Group Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty Received $500,000 From Bradley Foundation; Suing MATC Over Contract That Saves Taxpayers $150 Million
The just-filed lawsuit by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) over a contract signed by the Milwaukee Area Technical College comes thanks to Gov. Scott Walker's campaign co-chair Michael Grebe, the CEO of the Bradley Foundation, which has contributed $500,000 to WILL. The lawsuit seeks to undo a contract that will save taxpayers $14 million in its first year and nearly $150 million in the future.
"Taxpayers can personally thank Gov. Walker's campaign co-chair for this lawsuit, that if successful, will cost them $150 million," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "MATC did the right thing for students, faculty and taxpayers, but this doesn't sit well with the Bradley Foundation and they've dispatched their Republican legal machine to stick its nose where it's not needed."
Gov. Walker has already cost students at Wisconsin technical colleges untold millions of dollars in new student loan debt after raising tuition and cutting $70 million from the system in his previous state budget.
"Gov. Walker's machine is sticking to students and faculty on both ends," said Ross. "This contract they are trying to invalidate will not only save taxpayers money, but it also prevented a mass exodus of qualified and exceptional educators."
Groundbreaking research by One Wisconsin Institute shows that the debt from the average two-year degree in Wisconsin is taking students 16.8 years to repay.
Research by One Wisconsin Now also shows that the physical plaintiff in the Bradley-funded lawsuit has donated $450 to Gov. Walker's campaign.
Madison -- Newly-minted Republican State Senator Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac recently took an extraordinary vow, promising to vote against the entire state budget unless it contained a statewide expansion of the unaccountable private school voucher program. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted that the massive spending of the education privatization cartel on behalf of his campaign, reported on the front-page story of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, sheds light on Gudex's pledge.
Ross commented, "Rick Gudex must be a fast learner, because he's learned pay-to-play as quickly as Wisconsin has ever seen."
According to the newspaper report, the pro-voucher American Federation for Children said they spent over $325,000 to boost Gudex in a race he won by just 600 votes. The special interest group touted Gudex's election as critical for advancing their agenda. Gudex himself commented on the advertising run on his behalf saying, "I'm sure it didn't hurt me."
In attempting to defend his unseemly budget vote pledge, Gudex claims he was a longtime, public supporter of the unaccountable private school voucher program. Yet as his campaign for State Senate heated up in fall 2012, One Wisconsin Now uncovered that he had scrubbed his website to remove references to his support for the program.
One Wisconsin Now also recently issued a report exposing the propaganda campaign behind the push for education privatization in Wisconsin, and the massive funding it has received from the Milwaukee based Bradley Foundation, run by Gov. Walker's campaign co-chair Michael Grebe. Since 2001, the Bradley Foundation has spent over $31 million on a comprehensive media and public relations campaign to try to shape public opinion and convince legislators to expand the private school voucher program that will have received at least $1.8 billion from taxpayers by 2014-15.
Ross concluded, "Vowing to oppose the budget unless the special interests that backed him are satisfied is sure giving the people an education about what kind of legislator Rick Gudex is. There's no other way to see it other than the education privatization cartel has bought themselves a budget vote."
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) has been given a seventh seed in a national NCAA tournament-themed contest to determine who is the most "outrageous, radical, out of touch right-winger" of the past year. The contest, available at MarchBadness.org, is sponsored by One Wisconsin Now's national partner, Progress Now, a network of 21 state-based progressive groups specializing in research, communications, rapid response and online organizing.
"We are both humbled and outraged that Sen. Ron Johnson's inanity and extremism have warranted this 'honor,'" said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "Given Ron Johnson's bumbling and extremism on issues across the spectrum, we are confident #ourdumbsenator will over perform amongst his august competition."
One Wisconsin Now currently hosts a website devoted to the compendium of Johnson buffoonery at www.OurDumbSenator.com.
Among Sen. Johnson's "highlights" featured on the website are his:
"With all the extremists and out-of-touch right wingers out there, that our own Ron Johnson could make the short list is indeed a dubious distinction for our Tea Party senator," said Ross.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statements regarding the vote on advisory referenda in the City of Milwaukee and Dane County in support of preserving Wisconsin's same day voter registration law:
"Voters have spoken and their message is clear, they want their right to vote protected. By overwhelming margins they said 'no way' to ending same day voter registration.
"Voting is our civic duty and the time that everyone, rich or poor, young or old, has an equal say in the direction of our communities. Government ought to be about protecting and expanding our rights, not taking them away.
"The attempts in Wisconsin to make it harder for legal voters to vote and have their voices heard - from ending same day voter registration to rigging election districts and restricting early voting hours - are not just wrong, they are unpopular."
In advance of Tuesday's election, the One Wisconsin Institute released a report detailing the assault on voting rights by state Republicans and the myth of voting impropriety upon which their anti-voter rights policies are based.
By Adelaide Davis
In 2011 the student debt hit $1 trillion with $3,000 of new student debt accrued every second, according to Buisnessweek Magazine. Simultaneously, the cost of education has exploded, promising student loan debt will only continue to rise in the future.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama promised to make university education more accessible to America's students.
"Let me put colleges and universities on notice," the President said, "If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can't be a luxury - it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."
Yet, an intractable Republican-led House of Representatives allowed sequestration to take effect including measures which will only exacerbate the student loan crisis in the United States.
According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, under the sequester, an estimated 70,000 students who can least afford it will have to borrow more for college. Federal work-study grants will be cut by $49 million and supplemental educational opportunity grants for undergraduate students will be cut by $37 million.
Under the sequester, an estimated 70,000 students who can least afford it will have to borrow more for college.
Furthermore, many American students will lose access to grants and work study. It is likely thousands of students will be unable to pursue higher education due to the sequesters restrictions.
Work study students won't be the only ones suffering the sequester fallout. Additional cuts to federal support for state universities will perpetuate the vicious cycle of students and their families being forced to pay higher tuition, and take on even more debt, to fill the gap left by waning public support for higher education.
Sequester cuts even imperil the quality of the education students are paying for, at a time we can least afford it. Educational achievement in the United States has fallen to the middle of the pack among developed nations. Our students continue to test lower in mathematics and science and 75% of American citizens ages 17-24 cannot pass military entrance exams.
We cannot accept a less qualified workforce or military.
And can we cannot afford the economic consequences of the deepening student loan debt crisis.
One Wisconsin Institute's recent research indicates student-loan debt is handicapping the Wisconsin economy. Statewide, the length of student loan debt is 19 years for bachelor's degrees and a whopping 22 years for master's and professional degrees. Student loan debt inhibits individuals spending capabilities and, therefore, adversely affects the state and national economy. For instance, individuals paying on a student loan are more than twice as likely to purchase a used versus new vehicle. Annual aggregate new vehicle spending consequently may be reduced in Wisconsin by up to $201.8 million.
Democrats, Republicans and independents certainly have different views on many of the challenges facing our state and nation. There is one thing we all can agree on, however - we love the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We want Wisconsin's best students, regardless of income, to continue to attend our university. We want our students to be taught by the best possible faculty and staff. And we do not want our graduates and economy to be crippled by student debt.
It is time to tell Congress that we've had enough. The future of our state and nation depends on it.
Voting is our right and our civic duty. Voting gives us a say in the direction of our community, and elections are the one time everyone - young or old, rich or poor - is equal.
Recognizing the importance of voting to our democracy, the Wisconsin Constitution explicitly provides for a state right to vote and prohibits all but narrowly drawn, limited purpose laws to regulate the exercise of the franchise. It does not take kindly to efforts that needlessly restrict the right to vote.
In recent years however, many state Republican politicians have engaged in actions that contravene not only the spirit, but also the letter, of the state constitution. Gerrymandering state legislative districts, imposing a photo ID requirement making it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of legal voters to vote, proposing the elimination of same day voter registration, advocating for poll list purges that would create chaos and long lines on election day, and even floating trial balloons on changing the allocation of electoral college votes to gain partisan advantage - all from Republicans in the last two years.
The latest comes from Republican Representative Duey Stroebel with his proposal to make it more equally inconvenient to vote wherever you live in Wisconsin. Under Stroebel's plan, clerks in places like Madison and Milwaukee would be all but prohibited from offering "early voting" on weekends and later in the evening to help voters vote as conveniently as possible.
Wisconsin State Journal columnist Chris Rickert, jumps into the fray with Pollyanna-ish excuse making at best, or at worst, a flawed attempt to manufacture a false equivalency and ascribe selfish partisan motivations to both efforts to restrict the right to vote and efforts to expand the franchise.
When called to account for his column, Rickert tragi-comically ascribes nefarious, partisan motivations to efforts to encourage more electoral participation writing, "Dems look to lower barriers to voting b/c they know their voters are more likely to be dissuaded by barriers".
In a recent study by the non-partisan Pew Foundation, Wisconsin was ranked as one of the best states in the nation for voting, in large part because of laws that expand, not restrict, opportunities for people to cast their votes as conveniently as possible. What reason other than partisan political self-interest is there then in undoing the pro-voting laws that make this possible?
There is no gray area here. Making voting equally inconvenient wherever you live does not protect the integrity of our elections or advance the cause of democracy. Characterizing opposition legislation that would do so as some sort of act of partisanship equal to those pushing for the law is wrong.
If you agree that our democracy is best served by legal voters voting, then bills like the early voting restriction proposal that work against that, and the lawmakers like Rep. Stroebel that propose them, ought to be rebuked, not excused.
Scot Ross is Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now, a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.
Written by: Adelaide Davis and Bri Backes
Today, choice is a popular buzzword in the debate over women's health. Women argue they should be able to choose independently about health... Do I want to have children? Where do I want to give birth? Do I want to use oral contraceptives? Gender equality will only be a reality if women can freely choose how to govern their own bodies.
But who actually has the privilege to choose?
As UW- Madison students, we are in a privileged position, considering that access to crucial health services is as simple as walking a few blocks. Women in rural communities, a demographic often lacking health insurance, however, do not have the same luxury.
Wisconsin state budget cuts have forced Planned Parenthood, the state's largest reproductive nonprofit healthcare provider, to close four rural clinics. The loss of these health centers will affect over 2,000 patients, particularly young rural women. These budget cuts will disproportionately affect the patients who need the organization the most.
As young women, we feel it is necessary for all women to have access to the knowledge and services needed to understand our bodies and our health options. Planned Parenthood health centers annually provide education programs to nearly 1.2 million young people like ourselves
For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a single mom who cannot afford health insurance and lives 45 minutes from the nearest Planned Parenthood. Is she able to receive the preventative breast cancer screenings she needs? What about a college-aged woman who is sexually active, as nearly 80% of UW-Madison students are, but has never been educated on her birth control options. Where are her choices?
Unfortunately, important reproductive health services Planned Parenthood provides are often ignored in the debate regarding women's health. Despite popular claims that Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortions, only 3% of Planned Parenthood's procedures actually are abortion services.
The discussion regarding women's health needs to include the less controversial - yet highly critical - services Planned Parenthood provides. For instance, clinics administer significantly more exams to help prevent breast and ovarian cancer than abortion services, yet the debate largely ignores these services.
In short, what is most problematic about state budget cuts forcing four Planned Parenthoods to close is that the women affected will be those who need the clinics the most. The voices of rural women are repeatedly underrepresented. The reproductive health of rural women should not be any valued less than ours.
Adelaide Davis is a senior majoring in History and International Studies with certificates in African Studies and Global Health. Bri Backes is a junior majoring in International Studies with certificates in African Studies and Gender and Women's Studies.
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