Scott Walker's Pay To Play Politics: Students Come Second In Walker's Wisconsin

Aug 27, 2014

It’s the time of year when students head back to college campuses and move into their dorms, but this year they’re not the only ones going back to school. Long-time Scott Walker aide, Jim Villa, is starting his first semester as Vice President of University Relations for the UW System this fall.

Jim Villa, Scott Walker’s former chief of staff and campaign aide, was awarded the newly created position in April despite having no experience working in higher education according to his resume. What Villa did have were direct ties to the Realtors Association, which contributed to Walker’s campaign for governor, and of course, a Scott Walker reference. In Walker’s Wisconsin, you pay-to-play, and Villa paid the price through years of political favors to land the executive level job.

Since taking office, Scott Walker has vilified the UW System, stripping the board of regents of real power and cutting funding for the system by $250 million.

At his new post, Villa will earn $178,000 a year, meanwhile, this fall the average Wisconsin family will struggle to finance their children’s college education. Villa’s salary alone could pay the full tuition for 17 students to the UW System’s flagship institution and the system’s most expensive university, UW-Madison, this year.

Jim Villa’s ties to Scott Walker earned him a six-figure salary at a time when the average graduate leaves school with $22,400 in student loan debt. The average borrower pays nearly $400 a month over the span of nineteen years just to pay off their debt. Recent studies have shown that Wisconsin borrowers put off life milestones like getting married and buying a home in order to pay off their student debt.

“Scott Walker should be ashamed to have played a role in the hiring of Jim Villa to the UW System,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Thursday. “Villa has no experience working in higher education, and now he’ll make six figures while students can barely afford their tuition this fall. In November, voters will make it clear that Wisconsin is done with Walker’s cronyism and pay-to-play politics.”