Rep. Baldwin visits UWSP on “Higher Education Tour”
Logan T. Carlson
lcarl555@uwsp.edu
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin stopped at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point April 11 during her four day "Higher Education Tour" of Wisconsin universities and technical colleges.
 
About thirty people came to see Baldwin, who is currently running to replace Senator Herb Kohl when he retires this year. Baldwin is currently the only Democrat running, and will face the winner of a four-person race for the Republican nomination this fall.
 
The seven-term Congresswoman from Madison saw it as an opportunity to introduce herself to areas of the state that may not be familiar with her legislative record.
 
During the hour-long event, Baldwin highlighted some of her legislative accomplishments and talked about issues she has been hearing on the campaign trail.
 
One major point she made was keeping higher education affordable for those who seek it, as she sees higher education as the key to economic growth.
 
"I have always fought to keep the Pell Grant competitive with the rising cost of tuition," Baldwin said. "As more and more students necessarily need to take out student loans, which again saddens me because they emerge from college with a significant debt burden, so we have got to keep those interest rates affordable."
 
"I introduced an amendment two weeks ago to the Paul Ryan Budget, to prevent significant increase in the Stafford Loan interest rates this summer. Right now they are 3.4 percent. They are scheduled to double to 6.8 percent this summer if Congress doesn’t act, and I think we have to act because education is a key to our growth."
 
Baldwin also emphasized the need to support the UW System, which currently receives 17 percent of its budget from the state.
 
"We have seen an incredible shrinking of the amount of support that the state of Wisconsin gives to its state college and university system," Baldwin said. "It’s hardly able to call itself a public university anymore, which saddens me greatly."
 
Baldwin says the youth vote has always been very important to her, going back to her first elected position as a member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors while she was still a student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
 
"Know your power, because you have power," Baldwin said. "Your campus has a tremendous reputation for student activism."
 
Baldwin specifically mentioned the voter ID law that was passed last summer, and is currently the subject of four different lawsuits, saying the provisions in the bill that specifically excluded UW System IDs from being used were to silence the youth vote.
 
If elected to the senate, Baldwin would be the first openly gay member of the senate. Baldwin says this would change the conversation about LGBT issues. She mentions that instead of senate members talking about you, they are talking with you.
 
"It literally changes the dynamic of the conversation," Baldwin said.