When I decided to run for City Council in the spring of 2010, I didn’t imagine that I would spend the night of my primary election sleeping on a cold, marble floor in the Wisconsin State Capitol. But after Gov. Scott Walker proposed Act 10, I found myself among a crowd of thousands of other Madisonians protesting this affront to the progressive values our city holds dear.
As I prepare for tomorrow’s mayoral primary, I am inspired by the students who gathered at Library Mall this weekend to protest the proposed $300 million cut and impending deregulation of our university. I am running for mayor because we need a leader in City Hall who knows that real change happens when the will of our community leaders and everyday Madisonians is respected and acted upon. I am running because I am committed to empowering each of your voices and doing whatever I can from City Hall to protect our great university.
I am a recent graduate of UW-Madison and currently serve as a member of the Associate Board of Visitors to the Political Science Department. My degree from UW-Madison has been one of the most important investments I’ve ever made, and I know the same is true for just about every student and alumnus of the university. This explains why this debate has transcended traditional partisan politics, as citizens and legislators from all political backgrounds are calling for a reinvestment in our university.
Four years ago, I was elected as an alder to represent the campus district. During that time I have have seen our university face some serious challenges. None, however, have threatened UW-Madison and the UW System as much as the proposed reclassification as a public authority and the $300 million cut they are facing right now. I want to make sure all students have the knowledge and the resources they need to fight back against this devastating proposal.
In the face of systemic disinvestment from both Democratic and Republican governors over the past few decades, many university administrators have advocated for some of the proposed “flexibilities” in the governor’s public authority model. Unfortunately, these flexibilities amount to little more than deregulation that will make the UW System less accessible to hard-working families in our city and working-class Wisconsinites all across the state.
Reducing state oversight of the UW System means that state-mandated tuition caps or freezes that Walker cynically championed while on the campaign trail would be a thing of the past. We need look no further than Texas, where in-state tuition has more than doubled in the decade since the state deregulated the university system. In Texas, Republicans and Democrats alike are calling for much-needed legislative controls on rising tuition costs.
Further, under a public authority model, the state legislature can no longer mandate that nonresident students comprise no more than 27.5 percent of the student body. To recoup lost revenue, the university will inevitably open its doors to more out-of-state students, like the University of Michigan. As students and alumni at the flagship public research university in our state, we must stand together in opposition to any initiatives that make UW-Madison less accessible for the very people it was founded to serve.
We need to be looking to collaborate with both Democrats and Republicans throughout the state if we want to mitigate the damage done to our university. When hundreds of local jobs in Madison may hang in the balance, the city has an obligation to fight back. If I were mayor right now, I would be building a coalition of mayors from across the state to use local, grassroots power and present unified, bipartisan opposition to the cuts. So far, Mayor Paul Soglin has done nothing to these ends.
As mayor, I will continue to fight for your interests and work to amplify your voices in City Hall. I ask for your support in tomorrow’s primary because I know that Madison is a city of the future that’s being held back by leadership stuck in the past. I ask for your help tomorrow so we can move our city forward.
Scott Resnick ([email protected]) is an alder for the eighth district and a mayoral candidate.