For most University students, a part time job is not enough to cover the expenses of higher education. Today, more than 750,000 Wisconsin residents hold federal student loan debt, with many thousands more in debt from private lenders. The average graduating student faces $22,400 in student loans, which comes out to about $400 a month for 19 years. But the value of educating our youth to still remains unquestionable. To bring good quality jobs to Wisconsin, we need to have a workforce that has the skills to perform them.

And yet despite this accepted need, Governor Walker has done nothing to address the problem of student loan debt in Wisconsin. Instead, he slashed the University of Wisconsin System funding by $250 million, and cut the technical college system by 30 percent. This year, more than 41,000 eligible students from those systems were denied need-based financial-aid because of insufficient funds and the Governor’s temporary election year tuition freeze will be of little help.

These policies do not constitute a care, let alone a commitment to Wisconsinites struggling under the burden of student loan debt. This should be a prime motivator for every student in the state to head to polls this November 4th. Funding for the UW system and technical colleges should not be on the chopping block as an optional expense in the pursuit of an ideologically driven and ineffective goal. Higher education is an investment that Wisconsin has had a proud history of dedicating itself to, with fantastic results.

Governor Walker’s opponent, Democrat Mary Burke is the only candidate who has expressed a desire to make college affordability a priority for the benefit of the entire state. Her platform includes proposals like allowing students to refinance loans at reduced rates and deduct college tuition payments from taxes. She also supports increased state funding for the UW system and technical colleges to mitigate the effects of the Governor’s most harmful cuts.

Wisconsin students and the state as a whole deserve better than draconian cuts to our precious higher education system. If we aren’t making college affordable, then how can Walker claim to be investing for the future? He has no plans for helping Wisconsin students bring down their student loan debt. This debt nationwide has surpassed credit card debt, and the effects of doing nothing about it in this state will be disastrous. Mary Burke is the only candidate that understands this and has a plan to solve the problem. That’s why she is the clear choice for Wisconsin students in November.