Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton urged the Legislature on Wednesday
to honor the original intent of a tuition benefit program for Wisconsin
veterans by not putting any limits on how long they have to take advantage of
Lawton, at the first of four news conferences planned around
the state, also called on the Legislature to provide $11.5 million in funding
for the tuition breaks as Gov. Jim Doyle had proposed. The Assembly budget
approved by the Republican majority eliminated all funding for the program,
which takes effect this fall.
And under both the Assembly and Senate versions of the
budget, the benefit could not be used for any graduate or professional school
and would expire 10 years after veterans leave the service.
One of those who voted for that budget, Rep. Terry Musser,
R-Black River Falls, said whether to fund the law is a political question that
will get resolved by the bipartisan conference committee working on a budget
While Musser said he did not support an unlimited time for
using the benefit, he said that a 10-year deadline probably was too short.
“There’s probably reasonable compromise but that can’t
be arrived at in an hour or overnight,” he said.
Lawmakers should not reverse themselves on the original
promise of the law, which was for a lifetime to use the aid and free graduate
school, said Mark Grams, veterans service officer for Dodge County.
Grams, who attended the news conference but was not one of
the speakers, said politicians knew what they were passing in 2006, an election
year, and should not go back on their word.
Even if the program were funded at the level Doyle and the
Democratic Senate calls for, it would fall tens of millions of dollars short
and force the state’s universities and technical colleges to either raise
tuition or make cuts to other programs, according to the Legislative Fiscal
– Associated Press
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