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Education Key Point In 35th Assembly Program


The candidates for the 35th Assembly district addressed a variety of issues Wednesday during a one-hour session on Wisconsin Public Radio's "Route 51" in Wausau.

One question centered on funding public education. Incumbent Republican Mary Czaja of Tomahawk says the school funding formula is hard to change to help rural districts as some districts are doing well. She says rural districts with busing are at a disadvantage...

"....and it's very hard to factor into any funding formula declining enrollment and transportation(costs). A lot of the schools in the (district) are spending over a thousand dollars just to get the kids through the door...."

Challenger  Democrat Renae Frederick of Merrill says it takes money to create a quality workforce...

"...the cost of not funding education is much more than not investing into our schools..Our schools are investments, that's where our workforce comes from..."

One question centered on the $250 million  cut from UW-Madison's budget. Czaja  says the state's rural universities shouldn't have taken a large hit, saying the flagship UW-Madison campus has large resources to draw on...

".....(UW)Madison is sitting on $1.2 billion, kind of a slush fund...and in the (UW-Madison) Foundation there is over $3 billion sitting there. And we're asking taxpayers to fund a university sitting on $3 billion?..."

Frederick  says that wasn't a fair comparison, and says the flagship campus needs to have the funding it needs to keep its programs first rate. She says the legislature found the money to build a Milwaukee sports arena after cutting education...

"...when we have $250 million for a sports arena I think we have $250 million for our education. This is a skilled workforce. It's bringing new technologies and new jobs. We need that university to do research, it's not cheap...."

The candidates also discussed the situation at Copper Hills juvenile facility in Irma, getting more jobs in the north, local control and other issues.

The program was recorded and will be broadcast on WXPR in the next few weeks. WXPR News Director Ken Krall was also involved in the panel.