MADISON, Wis. — In a stunning display of skewed priorities, the Wisconsin State Legislature will take action today on GOP bills that would undermine access to higher education for students of color, remove protections for marginalized students at Wisconsin universities, and enshrine into our state constitution discriminatory anti-voter laws that unjustly target voters of color, rural voters, voters with disabilities, and other marginalized voters across Wisconsin.
Although Assembly Bill 554 was presented under the guise of enhancing financial aid accessibility, GOP Sen. Eric Wimberger – a co-sponsor of the bill and a member of the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) – voted to cut from the most recent state budget several expansions of financial aid for Wisconsin college students.
“If Sen. Wimberger and Republicans in the Assembly genuinely wanted to expand access to financial aid for Wisconsin students, they had every opportunity to do that in the state budget process this year,” said Lucy Ripp, communications director at A Better Wisconsin Together. “Instead, they slashed financial aid expansion from the state budget and are now undermining access to pursue higher education, by attacking programs that work to close existing gaps in access to collegiate education for BIPOC communities.”
Notably, this will be the fourth time Republican legislators have introduced an iteration of the other Assembly bill (553) set to be taken up today, after it failed three other times to pass in previous legislative sessions.
The bill would not only strip protections for marginalized students targeted by derogatory language, it would give a panel of Republican legislators full reign to cut financial aid for all students at a given university.
“All students deserve to feel safe on campus,” said Ripp. “But Assembly Bill 553 would penalize Wisconsin universities for protecting marginalized students from hateful rhetoric under the guise of free speech and give GOP legislators with no legal background the ability to issue judgments resulting in thousands of students losing access to critical financial state aid.”
Also happening in the legislature today, the state Senate will be taking up constitutional amendments that would enshrine into our state constitution discriminatory anti-voter laws that unjustly target voters of color, rural voters, voters with disabilities, and other marginalized voters across Wisconsin.
“Our elected leaders ought to be helping, not hindering, our ability to make our voices heard in our elections,” Ripp said. “But instead of expanding voting access, Wisconsin Republicans continue to push unnecessary restrictions on our electoral processes and place undue burdens on voters.
“Amid mounting evidence that the right-wing agenda on issues that matter to Wisconsinites is increasingly unpopular, Republicans’ solution is not to align themselves with the will of the voters but to make it harder for us to make our voices heard at election time,” Ripp continued. “This is a very transparent ploy from state Republicans to dodge accountability at the ballot box.”
Call your legislator today at 1-800-362-9472 and demand they denounce any legislation that undermines our freedom to vote or Wisconsinites’ access to pursue higher education.