WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton highlighted the education record of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) at a town hall in New Hampshire on Tuesday, contrasting her plan to alleviate student debt with the policies of the Republican presidential primary field.
Walker's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which he announced in January, included a 13 percent cut in state funds to the University of Wisconsin system and a $127 million cut in public primary school funding. The Republican presidential candidate called the $300 million in cuts for the university network "manageable," though his plan was met with bipartisan criticism and layoff predictions.
Walker seems "to be delighted in slashing investment in higher education in his state, in making it more difficult for students to get scholarships or to pay off their debt," Clinton said, adding that he is also "eliminating the opportunities for young people who are doctors or dentists who actually work in underserved areas in return for having their debt relieved, ending scholarships for poor kids, [and] ... rejecting legislation that would have made it tax deductible for you on your income tax to deduct the amount of your loan repayment."
"I don’t know why he wants to raise taxes on students, but that’s the result," Clinton added.
In her comments, Clinton referenced legislation that was backed by Democrats in the state legislature but was never sent to Walker's desk. It would have helped borrowers refinance their student loans and deduct student loan payments from their state taxes. Walker questioned whether the proposal was "more than just politics."
The governor eliminated the loan forgiveness program Clinton mentioned, which was available to health care providers who worked in underserved communities for three or more years, in his proposed budget.
Walker has rejected criticism of his budget proposals by highlighting the tuition freezes for UW students that he has supported. The cuts, he has said, are necessary to plug the state's budget hole.
Clinton suggested that Walker isn't the only Republican candidate who isn't concerned about the financial burdens students and former students face. She said she admired viewers who had the fortitude to sit through the GOP presidential debates last Thursday, when student loan debt didn't come up once.
"If you go look at those tapes, if you haven’t seen it, there was not one word from one of those candidates about making college affordable or dealing with debt," she pointed out.
Walker responded Tuesday to Clinton in a tweet:
Clinton's own education plan, which she introduced Monday, would help students attend public colleges without taking out loans, and would provide incentives to states to slow tuition growth and help borrowers already struggling with their debt to refinance what they pay back.