2017 - 2018
Legislative Update for
Wisconsin Technical Colleges
June 27, 2019
Budget Passes, Includes $25 Million Increase for WTCS
The Wisconsin Assembly passed the 2019-21 state budget, including minor changes to the Joint Finance version, on June 25 by a vote of 60-39. The Senate followed, passing the Assembly version the next day on a narrow 17-16 vote, following a relatively brief debate. The budget now moves to the Governor’s desk for partial vetoes and signing, or rejection. This morning, Governor Evers officially called for the bill, indicating he is prepared to act on it. He will have six days, not including Sunday, to either sign or veto the bill once it is received.
As passed by the Legislature, the bill provides a historic $25 million increase in general aid for the Wisconsin Technical College System. During floor debate, legislators repeatedly cited the remarkable outcomes for graduates and employers that are produced by technical colleges, and the importance of WTCS program offerings across the state. Each college should be proud of their work to put student success first, and the impact they have each day in their communities. The Governor, by providing an investment in the executive budget, and lawmakers, who increased that investment, have explicitly recognized the importance and quality of a technical college education in Wisconsin.
The budget bill contains the following provisions of interest to technical colleges:
- The Governor’s budget bill proposed increases of $6 million in 2019-20 and $12 million in 2020-21 for technical college general aid, and the Legislature increased these amounts to $12.5 million in each year, an increase of 14.1% over the base year. Read more in the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) issue paper on WTCS.
- The Governor’s budget bill proposed increases of $1.1 million in 2019-20 and $2.4 million in 2020-21 for technical college need-based student financial aid, equal to a 5% annual increase. The bill likewise proposed 5% annual increases in need-based grants to UW students and to private college students. The Legislature deleted these increases, and base-level funding will continue for all three sectors. Read more in the LFB paper on these grants.
- The Governor’s budget bill proposed increased flexibility under the revenue limit on WTCS property taxes. The proposed limit for technical colleges would be equal to the change in the district’s value attributable to net new construction, or 2%, whichever is greater. The Legislature removed this change for all local units of government, one of 131 budget changes approved during the first day of voting. The current law revenue limits continue to apply.
- The Governor’s bill proposed changes to dual enrollment programs to high school students, and would have eliminated the Start College Now program (WTCS) and the Early College Credit program (UW and private colleges), replacing both with new “Dual Enrollment Programs.” The Legislature deleted these provisions, meaning that current law will continue to apply to WTCS dual enrollment programs of all types.
The District Boards Association thanks both Governor Evers and the Legislature for investing with confidence in Wisconsin’s technical colleges and our students.
Please note that, in addition to the massive budget legislation, a number of stand-alone bills of interest to technical colleges are pending, including:
- AB-13/SB-17 – Workforce training grants micro-credentials in high-demand fields
- AB-23/SB-16 – Career and technical education incentive grants
- AB-36/SB-44 – Tools of the Trade apprentice scholarships
- AB-57/SB-88 – Youth apprenticeship
- AB-76/SB-103 – Hours of instruction for CNAs
- AB-189/SB-165 – Transferability of courses between WTCS, the UW System, private and tribally controlled colleges
The DBA continues to work actively on behalf of improving credit transfer, with the overall goal of reducing credit loss and providing increased flexibility for students. For more information on these efforts, please contact Layla Merrifield.