wisconsin capitol
Press Release
September 26, 2014

Gov. Walker Refuses to Help Student Loan Borrowers As His WEDC Lets Businesses That Owe Millions to State Off the Hook

Has Snagged Over $1 Million in Campaign Cash From Recipients of State Aid and $4 Million Plus From Financial Industry

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker has steadfastly refused to support a common sense state plan to allow students loan refinancing, just like you can a mortgage, helping many of Wisconsin’s 800,000 student loan borrowers. Meanwhile, a recent audit of Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) revealed the agency declared as uncollectible millions of dollars in taxpayer funded loans to businesses that were delinquent.

“Gov. Walker brushes off common sense reforms to help the student loan borrowers who have done the right thing — working hard to get their education or job training and taking on the personal responsibility of paying for it,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Meanwhile his WEDC is letting businesses that businesses that didn’t pay back their loans off the hook.”

A recent audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that nearly $7 million in taxpayer financed loans for which WEDC is responsible that were delinquent were either written off as uncollectible, amended to defer payments or flat out forgiven.

Meanwhile Gov. Walker refused to support, and his Republican allies in the legislature killed, a bill introduced in October 2013 to enact common sense reforms including refinancing and a tax break for borrowers in the historic Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act.

A One Wisconsin Now May 2014 report, ‘W Is for WEDC’ found that nearly 60 percent of all WEDC’s economic development policy dollars went to corporations whose owners and employees contributed to Gov. Walker’s campaign, over $1 million in total. Most recently it came to light that shortly after WEDC “quietly” approved a $6 million tax break for a business, the company’s owner, chairman and their two spouses each made $5,000 contributions all on the same day for a total of $20,000 to Walker’s campaign. As a part of the deal, the company is allowed to lay off up to half of their workforce in the state – nearly 2,000 workers..

In addition, while refusing to help borrowers refinance student loans, just like you can with a mortgage, an analysis of Gov. Walker’s campaign fundraising by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported he has raised $4 million from the banking and finance industry.

“Gov. Walker has been more than willing to bail out the businesses and wealthy donors that fill his campaign coffers than helping hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who just want the fair shot at the middle class they earned by working hard to get an education. That says a lot about Gov. Walker’s priorities, none of it good,” concluded Ross.

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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