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Legislative Update for Wisconsin Technical Colleges

April 5, 2019


Joint Finance Committee Begins Budget Work

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released its summary of the Governor’s executive budget bill the last week in March, marking the unofficial start of the Joint Finance Committee’s (JFC) work on the budget. The LFB summary, along with some foundational analyses of the bill’s major effects, can be found here .

JFC held two rounds of agency briefings on April 3rd and 4th, and begins a series of hearings around the state today to take testimony from the public. Those hearings will be held at the following dates and locations:

Following the public hearings, JFC will begin taking votes on the budget as soon as late April, aiming to finish their work sometime around Memorial Day. As a reminder, the major provisions proposed by the Governor as it relates to technical colleges include:

The District Boards Association thanks Governor Evers for investing with confidence in Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

The DBA is pursuing serious policy discussions with legislators on the budget bill’s changes to how technical colleges are permitted to provide dual enrollment to high school students. The bill eliminates the Start College Now program used by technical colleges, replacing it with a new “Dual Enrollment Program.” Private high school students would be included in the program, and our colleges would be prohibited from charging tuition or fees to either high school students or school districts for classes on our campuses. The local financial impact of such a change will be a loss of at least $2.2 million annually, significantly impeding the colleges’ ability to continue to provide occupational and technical education for high schools without access to CTE labs. The array of dual enrollment opportunities currently offered by the colleges reach more than 46,000 students annually, with more than 85% of credits offered tuition-free. It’s a priority for DBA that Start College Now be reinstated, and local agreements now in place be permitted to continue.

Please note that, in addition to the massive budget legislation, a number of stand-alone bills of interest to technical colleges are also being considered by the Legislature, including:

The DBA testified in favor of AB-36, which would provide grants to assist technical college apprenticeship students with purchase of the clothing, equipment, and tools necessary to complete their apprenticeships. We thank the co-authors of the bill for their continued support. WTCS currently serves nearly 7,000 apprentices each year in related classroom instruction, and WTCS apprentices report average starting wages of $77,700 upon completion of their programs.