Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Hintz: Students must get political

[media-credit name=’KATE BRENNER/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]Budget_KB[/media-credit]

With the Wisconsin Legislature’s passing of the state budget, Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said he believes the University of Wisconsin System “fared real well.”

Hintz, a member of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee, said overall he is happy with the funding of the budget, adding UW-Oshkosh will receive the first new academic building in more than 30 years, along with a new residence hall.


However, Hintz said he is concerned the revenue is a little less secure for programs like the Growth Agenda — a plan calling for reinvestment in the university system to increase enrollment, improve graduation and retention rates and keep graduates in the state — when the state is borrowing money from sources that may not be reliable, such as the cigarette tax.

“It is important if we go through a recession or tougher economic times, and revenue declines, I am not convinced that we will be able to see the second and third parts of the Growth Agenda go through,” Hintz said in a sit-down interview with The Badger Herald.  “I am glad the funding was there for the (UW) System, I just wish we were more responsible with the funding.”

Despite the concern with revenue, Hintz said he is glad the university’s Growth Agenda has targeted its goals for expansion in the areas of economic need, like teaching and sciences.

“It is easier to support knowing there is a clear agenda plan,” Hintz said. “They didn’t just come in asking for more money, they need a more educated, skilled population.”

Hintz said, moving forward, he hopes issues involving students will be made more about the students themselves, instead of using them as a “political volleyball” the state can beat around.

“The university was really caught up in the budget as one of the biggest differences,” Hintz said. “I never viewed the UW System as a partisan issue, but it became it in the budget.”

In addition, with the election year approaching, Hintz said as a legislator he will do everything he can to ensure Democrats win the majority in the state Legislature, and said he has already endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for the 2008 presidential election.

Hintz said he believes in Obama because he is idealistic about the role government can play and is the best presidential candidate to meet the challenges the country faces.

Hintz said he would like to impress upon students the importance of participating in the democratic process.

“Students are viewed as expendable because they are not a political force,” Hintz said. “They need to come to the table, not just in an election year.”

University of Wisconsin College Republicans Chair Sara Mikolajczak said she wants as many people to get out to vote, as long as they are informed about candidates and issues.

“If you are just going to vote for someone because they have a ‘D’ or ‘R’ by their name, then stay home,” Mikolajczak said.

But Mikolajczak echoed Hintz’s message, and said she feels every committee in the state government is divided between party lines and they need to come together and work for the benefit of the state.

“If the College Democrats and College Republicans can work together, people who are getting paid should be able to work together,” Mikolajczak said.

UW College Democrats Chair Oliver Kiefer said it is standard practice for the committee to be divided, but added people on both sides of the aisle see the importance of higher education, and it does not have to be a “partisan war.”

Kiefer said one thing the state Legislature can do right away for the UW System is institute domestic partner benefits, an issue that should be about good faculty rather than partisan debate.

Hintz said he ultimately sees higher education as a major investment by the state to meet the demands of the economy.

“I hope we can move forward realizing it is a partnership,” Hintz said. “All programs impact each other — no entity can stand alone.”

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