State News

Congressman weighs in on tuition cut proposal and upcoming Capitol marches

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., announced he will not be attending President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration and that he would be attending the Women’s March in Madison the following day.

Image By: Lilly Price

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said financial aid is a bigger issue than the cost of tuition and encouraged Wisconsin residents to participate in grassroots movements during an intimate news conference Thursday.

The congressman was hesitant to support Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed in-state tuition cut for all UW System undergraduates, stating that if Walker doesn’t cover the costs of lost revenue the system will no longer be a renowned institution.

“That’s the concern I have because at some point you go from a world-class institution, to one of the best in the country, to the pride of the midwest, to 'they have a heck of a football team,'” Pocan said. “It’s a slide that can happen and we don’t want to be caught ... and can’t reel it back.”

Walker has previously said that the budget will cover the revenue losses from the proposed tuition cut.

Pocan, a member of the Appropriations Committee and former co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee as a state representative, said the tuition cut might not benefit low-income Wisconsin students.

“I don’t know those cuts that he’s doing are necessarily going to change that access [to higher education], but financial aid truly changes that access because it’s much more substantial for people who are of lower incomes,” Pocan said.

In the brief news conference, Pocan also took questions as to why he’s boycotting President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday.

Pocan is one of 64 members of Congress to declare they will skip the inaugural. Rather than heading to Washington D.C., Pocan said he will avoid the “pomp and circumstance” of the ceremony and instead volunteer at a local Wisconsin food pantry.

One of the driving reasons for the boycott is in response to Trump’s Twitter fight last week with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights leader. Pocan hopes that the boycott movement will “break” Trump’s “potentially devastating bad Twitter habit” by getting his attention.

Pocan also said he would be joining the Madison Women’s March on the state Capitol. The Saturday march is in solidarity with the national Women’s March in Washington D.C.

A grassroots supporter, Pocan explained that Republicans reversed their plans to restructure the ethics committee as a result of strong backlash from constituents.

“Even in this new Congress we’ve proved that people power works. That is the single best form of resistance that’s out there,” Pocan said.

The congressman also tried to motivate activists and citizens to sensibly and articulately get their messages heard by peacefully protesting rather than having a violent perception.

“The more the people are heard, the more you can impact what’s going on,” Pocan said. “You’re participating in democracy. You’re making democracy stronger by doing it.”

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