Pocan emphasizes education to spur the economy

Nicholas Garton, Staff Writer

One important issue in the 2012 presidential election is the economy. Candidates have voiced their opinions for how to do this..

However it is not just the presidential candidates who are under fiscal fire. State Rep. Mark Pocan laid out his plan for turning the economy around locally. Pocan is running for the Second District Congressional seat being vacated as incumbent Tammy Baldwin runs for Herb Kohl’s Senate seat.

Pocan believes education is the key to spurring change in our economy.

“We need to have the resources for people to have job training. Technical colleges are crucial to developing that training,” Pocan said.

For many, just getting into school to begin with is a challenge.  Finding affordable tuition during this economic slump has been a barrier to many who are trying to find ways to better themselves so they can find steadier jobs. During his tenure as a State Representative, Pocan helped raise over $80 million for student financial aid in Wisconsin. Yet Pocan says there is opposition to the concept of federally funded student loans.

“Some of the folks in the tea party want to cut back on pell grants and raise the rate on grants and cut down on the availability of funds for college. Those who can least afford it should not be barred from getting an education. Financial ability should not be a barrier to education,” he said.

What is the point if a thousand more students graduate if there are not enough jobs to support them?

“The economy has been changing thanks to globalization,” Pocan said. “We need to focus on making sure we’re incentivizing and investing in research in technology. A lot of jobs are going to be in the energy field for people in Wisconsin. Many of those jobs are going overseas. We need small business to have access to capital so they can hire more workers.”

The battle over school affordability and availability is more tied to globalization and job outsourcing overseas than many realize. Pocan theorizes a boost in small businesses as well as jobs returning from overseas may give the economy a boost.

Some college students are laid off workers looking for an education to propel them towards better opportunity. The children of undocumented workers or illegal immigrants are in a similar situation, searching for opportunities that are not available to them elsewhere.

Legislation has been discussed by Republicans to cut federal funding for universities who allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition costs forcing taxpayers must pay the difference that would otherwise be covered as an out-of-state student.

Many Republicans feel that to give an in-state rate to an illegal immigrant is like rewarding illegal immigration. It is one more way in which Republicans are turning up the heat on states to adopt more strict anti-immigration laws that would effect education and the economy.  Cutting off federal funding for universities who offer in-state tuition for illegal immigrants would mean the loss of things such as Pell Grants and research funding.

Wisconsin has passed laws to approve in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

“We need to pass the Dream Act to find a path to citizenship for people who have been here all their lives,” Pocan said