Skip to content

LTE – Terry Nichols – 10-9-2013

Assembly Bill 177

For all you folks who may not be aware of AB 177 waiting for a public hearing in Madison, here’s a bill that is long overdue. AB 177 would move the funding of the Wisconsin Tech College System, the other public higher education system, to the state level. The local tech college districts would no longer be funded by the local taxpayers.

While the Governor announced this past week his plans in addressing jobs and training in Wisconsin, this announcement falls short of being something monumental in the big picture relating to funding the WTCS. Recent information I received from the WTCS lists the following related to proposed general obligation debt by recent budget cycles:

2009-2010- $135,415,000

2010-2011- $116,860,000

2011-2012- $213,765,000

2012-2013- $254,033,000

2013-2014- $197,375,000

Guess who gets the bill for the above? This is not counting the operating budgets of the 16 districts. Another part of AB 177, which is the most democratic part of the bill, is a referendum question held statewide where you and I and all the voters in Wisconsin can actually have a voice in the outcome. Currently, the local tech college boards are appointed, hence taxation without representation. Our elected officials we send to Madison would be responsible for the WTCS budget like the UW System. Local Assemblyman Tom Larson is a cosponsor of this bill. When it comes to funding and listening to our elected officials  in Madison talking about their hardworking families and constituents back home; isn’t it time we have a voice? This bill is not about partisanship, it’s about fairness. The fundamental truth about all public higher education is that it is completely an individual’s choice. The local taxpayers have plenty on their plates already.

Terry Nichols
Town of Colfax
Dunn County, WI