MADISON, Wis. — The Agenda Project Action Fund, One Wisconsin Now and Wisconsin Jobs Now have launched “HOLD YOUR BREATH,” a graphic ad depicting an individual drowning to symbolize the plight of Americans burdened by student debt.
After slashing the budget for Wisconsin’s public university system by $250 million in advance of his presidential campaign launch, Scott Walker has further demonstrated that he has no intention of addressing the growing national student debt crisis. In fact, his record as governor demonstrates that he will only further exacerbate the problem. Student loan debt in the U.S. now exceeds $1.3 trillion, making it the second largest debt category, behind mortgages. This staggering debt load contributes to stagnant economic growth and presents a major barrier to young Americans attempting to break into the middle class. Research from One Wisconsin Institute shows the substantial negative impact student loan debthas on homeownership and new car purchasing in Wisconsin.
“During his tenure, Scott Walker has repeatedly gutted the Wisconsin public university system, once the best in the nation, through these egregious budget cuts,” stated Agenda Project Action Fund’s Director of Communications Erik Altieri, “Americans need to take just one look at what he did to higher education in Wisconsin and it immediately becomes clear that he is the most anti-public education governor in the country. His proposals have been disastrous for Wisconsin higher education and its students.”
“Scott Walker has been the worst governor in America for the student debt crisis,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “He gutted higher education by over $600 million, kept tens of thousands from financial aid and ignored a plan to allow hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at lower interest rates, just like you can a mortgage.”
In Wisconsin alone, 41,000 students were denied student aid last year as a result of Walker’s misplaced budget priorities. This legislative session, he proposed the largest cut in the history to the University of Wisconsin system – after making drastic cuts and raising tuition 11 percent in his first budget.
“Scott Walker says that working people who want to get out of poverty should ‘learn more to earn more.’ But with his ruthless cuts to higher education and his disregard for the student debt crisis, he denies them that opportunity,” said Jennifer Epps-Addison of Wisconsin Jobs Now. “Combined with his refusal to raise minimum wage even one cent and his cruel attacks on social safety nets, he has made it nearly impossible for Wisconsin families living on the brink to work themselves into the middle class.”
The ad will be broadly distributed by a coalition of groups including the Agenda Project Action Fund, One Wisconsin Now, and Wisconsin Jobs Now.