From journaltimes.com: “Gateway property taxes cut in half” — BURLINGTON — The property taxes local residents will pay for Gateway Technical College next year are to be cut in half thanks to an act of the Legislature passed this year, according to officials and Gateway’s proposed 2014-15 budget presented Thursday.

The total amount taxpayers are budgeted to pay next year for Gateway is $28.98 million, down from $60 million this year.

“Homeowners will see a reduction in their local property taxes which gives them the relief they are looking for and Gateway has been able to demonstrate good performance, so we’ll see an increase in the revenue streams to support ongoing training,” Gateway President Bryan Albrecht said following a budget presentation Thursday at the Gateway Technical College District Board meeting in the HERO Center, 380 McCanna Parkway, in Burlington.

Under Act 145, the property tax relief act passed this year, the state will pick up a large portion of what local property taxpayers usually pay for technical colleges throughout the state, explained Conor Smyth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Technical College System. It doesn’t mean a new pool of money for technical colleges, he said. It means local taxpayers will pay less, while statewide taxpayer dollars, now part of the state surplus, will be more heavily relied upon.

The surplus is the result of holding down spending, Act 10 savings, and the growing economy, according to state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester.

Change in state funding

Statewide, local property taxpayers used to pay 68 percent of the cost of technical colleges. That is now reduced to 33 percent, and the amount the state pays is going from 9 percent to 44 percent, Smyth said.

For Gateway, approximately $32 million is being moved from local property taxes to the state. That means about $83 in property tax relief for someone with a $100,000 home.

Vos, the Assembly speaker, said the biggest complaint he hears from constituents is about taxes and this provides relief, but state Rep. Cory Mason, R-Racine, said instead of simply swapping out property taxes more money should have gone to technical colleges for worker training, and he had proposed a bill that would have done that.

Mason said he voted against Act 145 not because he thinks the property tax cut is bad, but because technical college funding needs to be restored to prior levels.

“All the money they put into the technical college went to property tax relief, nothing from that bill went for job training or getting people back to work … If jobs really is the No. 1 issue, we should be investing in things that get people back to work.”

Albrecht said the college is getting additional state funding through a new performance-based calculation that rewards the school for doing well. The college has also applied for an additional $2.7 million through what is being called the Blue Print for Prosperity, according to Albrecht. That includes money for more boot camps, among other things.

Additional budget items

Overall, Gateway’s proposed total budget is down from $161.62 million to $156.76 million. Albrecht attributed that in part to Act 10, which essentially eliminated collective bargaining for public employees. It allowed Gateway to make changes to benefits such as retirement and health insurance, he said. Also he said over the last three years there were approximately 85 retirements, which contributed to the college’s savings because employees who had been with Gateway used to receive longevity pay based on the number of years they were with the college. Now he said instead of budgeting for longevity pay, they have funds budgeted for merit-based pay increases.

“We certainly want to be an employer of choice and recognize employees for the great work they are doing,” Albrecht said.

From leadertelegram.com: “Candidate tours tech: Democrat running for governor discusses worker education, jobs” – By Joe Knight Leader-Telegram staff – Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said Thursday she supports a proposal by her opponent, Gov. Scott Walker, to spend $35 million to help the state’s technical colleges provide additional training for high-demand jobs.

She also supports the governor’s initiative to find work for people with developmental disabilities.

However, Burke said the proposal would require future funding for technical colleges to keep those efforts ongoing.

Burke spoke briefly with reporters during a tour of high-tech industrial programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Gateway Campus. She criticized Walker for cutting $71 million from technical colleges in the first budget he oversaw as governor “just at the time when our technical colleges needed a boost.”

At the time Walker said budget cuts were needed because of a $3 billion state budget shortfall.

Burke said the types of high-tech manufacturing skills being taught at CVTC would help the middle class and would help grow the state’s economy. She spent time speaking with CVTC students, asking them about their career aspirations.

Jamie Rasmussen, a 35-year-old CVTC welding student, said more funding for CVTC programs will help more of them receive the training they need to find jobs.

Asked whether the process she observed Thursday could help build bicycles, Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive and a former commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said she wasn’t sure but noted Trek works closely with technical colleges in southern Wisconsin.

From lacrossetribune.com: “Wisconsin budget surplus nears $1 billion” — By Scott Bauer -Wisconsin’s budget surplus was projected Thursday to reach nearly $1 billion, money that Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislative leaders are eyeing for income and property tax cuts.

But news of the $977 million surplus, which was expected for weeks but larger than many anticipated, set off a feeding frenzy in the Capitol among lobbyists, special interest groups and lawmakers.

“Everybody and their cousins from other states will be coming home to get a piece of the money,” said Republican Senate President Mike Ellis, who has served through several budget booms and busts since he took office in 1971.

Walker and Republican leaders tried to dampen expectations for more spending, saying the money generated mostly through higher-than-anticipated tax collections should be returned to taxpayers. But Democrats and other liberal advocacy groups said it should be used for everything from aid to public schools and higher education, Medicaid and worker training grants.

“The additional revenue should be returned to taxpayers because it’s their money, and my administration will work with the Legislature to determine the most prudent course of action,” Walker said in a statement.

Walker has been talking with Republicans who lead the Senate and Assembly about tax cut proposals he plans to release in his State of the State speech next Wednesday. Walker’s spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said the governor wants to adjust income tax withholding tables to put more money in taxpayers’ pockets immediately and is also eyeing income and property tax reductions.

The question will be how any tax cuts are structured.

Walker’s getting pressure from Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to use the surplus to reduce property taxes levied and collected by technical colleges in Wisconsin. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he wasn’t convinced that was the only approach that could be taken. Fitzgerald said some in his caucus will want to save a portion of the surplus to be used for ongoing spending commitments.

Still, the pressure to send some of the surplus back to taxpayers will be strong.

“My members wouldn’t sit still for doing nothing,” Fitzgerald said.

Meanwhile, Walker isn’t saying much about what he will propose.

“The governor is focused on property and income tax relief and not necessarily other broad policy decisions at this point,” Webster said.

Democrats called for using the money to spur job creation and programs like worker training that would help the middle class.

“Taxpayers need a balanced approach that rebuilds the rungs on the ladder of success, provides tax relief directed to the middle class and long-term financial security,” said Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca.

The net total surplus of $977 million was fueled by $893 million in tax collections above earlier projections, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported. Net tax collections are projected to increase by 2.2 percent by July and another 4.3 percent by mid-2015.

Vos is pushing for replacing the technical college property tax levy with general state tax dollars.

The 16 technical college districts in Wisconsin cover the entire state, so supplanting property tax revenue with state money would lower property tax bills for homeowners statewide. The average property tax levy this year was $1.76 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Depending on how it’s structured the amount any individual homeowner would save would vary based on the value of their home and the amount of the local technical college district levy.

“I want to make sure we do something that everybody in Wisconsin feels,” Vos said.

Replacing a portion of the technical college property tax levy with state money is the most equitable way to provide property tax relief statewide, Vos said. Technical colleges levied about $796 million in property taxes this fiscal year. That is the fourth most behind school districts at $4.8 billion, municipalities at $2.6 billion and counties at $2 billion.

Conor Smyth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Technical College System, had no comment on Vos’s idea.

“We’re looking forward to learning more about what the proposal is,” Smyth said.

Vos said he did not know if Walker would be proposing an income tax rate reduction in addition to changing income tax withholding tables. Changing withholding tables would result in taxpayers getting more money back in their paychecks immediately, instead of receiving a larger income tax refund. The tables have not been updated since 2009.

From wxow.com: “State budget outlines K-12 funding” — Governor Walker made a stop at Western Technical College Monday, as part of what he’s calling his “Working for Wisconsin Tour.” The governor’s speech focused on the newly signed budget and what he sees as the benefits for the state, including a $650 million income tax cut. The budget also includes K-12 education funding for the next two years.

“We want to continue to transform education in this state so we put more money in our public schools, about $300 per student over the next two years, in our public schools,” Gov. Walker said. “We provide more educational options for our families.”

All Democrats in the Senate and Assembly voted against the budget, in part because the K-12 education funding. Rather than $300 dollars per pupil over the two years, Democrats hoped for close to $550 per, money they say could have come from other portions of the budget.

“We don’t think that the income tax break is a really logical thing because most people won’t even notice the couple dollars a week that it’s going to benefit them,” said Rep. Steve Doyle, a Democrat from 94th Assembly District. “That money we think would have better gone to K-12 education so that we really can fund our schools to the level they need to be funded. Talking with my local school superintendents, they’re not sure what they’re going to do to make ends meet in this next budget.”

But the governor says schools are finding ways to operate within their state mandated means, citing a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report released last week, that shows many districts in the state maintained the same amount of full time staffers or close to it over the last few years. The governor says the funding Democrats wanted just wasn’t in the numbers.

“The last time the Democrats had control of the budget process, they raised taxes more than $1 billion, they raised taxes via local property taxes, and they still cut money from public education,” Gov. Walker said.

Still it’s not all disagreement between the two parties, one portion of the budget garnering bipartisan support is a two-year tuition freeze for UW-System. Both the governor and Rep. Doyle say that will be boost for students and the state.

During the Assembly budget debate, Democrats didn’t bring up any amendments. Rep. Doyle says Republican leadership told the caucus they would reject the democrats proposed changes anyway. Rep. Doyle says instead, they will bring up the reforms in various pieces of legislation next session.

 

 

From jsonline.com: “Scott Walker signs bill providing $15 million in work force training grants” — Madison - The state will distribute $15 million in worker training grants under a bill Gov. Scott Walker signed into law on Wednesday.

The measure will also create a system to better and more quickly track jobs data in an attempt to guide workers to in-demand professions. The jobs database is scheduled to be in place by next year.

The measure has broad bipartisan support, passing the Senate unanimously and the Assembly 94-4 in recent weeks. Despite minority Democrats’ support for the bill, they said it fell short and lawmakers should do more to develop workers’ skills.

“We all agree we need to continue to do everything we can to ensure workers have the necessary skills for the jobs available today,” Walker said in a statement. “This bill will help address the skills gap by investing in worker training grants and developing a Labor Market Information System. Altogether, these investments will focus a concerted effort to connect workers with jobs.”

The jobs database and training grants are part of the Republican governor’s platform of improving the skills of the state’s aging labor force and boosting the state’s economy in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The training plans draw on reports by Competitive Wisconsin and Tim Sullivan, the former Bucyrus International chief executive officer.

Democrats, however, have noted that Walker has proposed far less new money for training workers than the hundreds of millions of dollars that he and GOP lawmakers cut two years ago from the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Technical College System to help balance the state budget.

Walker made those cuts, as well as ones to local governments and school districts, just after approving a measure that all but eliminated collective bargaining for most public workers and required them to pay more for their pensions and health care. He has argued that those savings and the added flexibility offset the cuts, saying the bill he signed Wednesday amounts to new money.

The governor’s proposed budget would provide additional money for state universities and technical colleges, though the increase would be less than the amount he cut in 2011. Lawmakers will decide this summer whether to keep or alter Walker’s proposal on higher education spending.

The competitive grants available under the new law would go to technical colleges, local workforce boards and regional economic development organizations working in partnership with state businesses, which could provide matching funds.

 

From jsonline.com: “University, college funding would be tied to job-readiness efforts” — Madison - To respond to global competition and an aging workforce, Gov. Scott Walker wants to invest nearly $100 million to build a faster system to track jobs data, tie technical school and university funding to filling high-demand professions and require nearly 76,000 people to train for work to collect food stamps.

The sweeping proposals – some of the biggest in worker training in more than a decade – would expand the Medical College of Wisconsin to Green Bay and Wausau and draw in millions of dollars in added federal money toward the goal of equipping the workforce for needed jobs as welders, nurses, accountants, machine operators and rural doctors.

The measures encompass big parts of the Republican governor’s 2013-’15 budget being introduced on Feb. 20, as well as separate legislation to be introduced on Monday.

Many of the proposals will likely find bipartisan support in the Legislature, while others will likely be greeted with dissatisfaction from Democrats pushing for bigger investments from the governor to backfill the cuts he has made in the current budget to the state’s technical colleges and universities.

One potentially contentious plank – and one with big implications for Milwaukee – is Walker’s proposal to require able-bodied adults without dependent children to train or search for work to receive benefits under the state FoodShare program. Providing the training will cost the state $17 million a year and won’t save money directly on the federally funded food benefits.

But in an interview, Walker said he believes the recipients will gain confidence and move into the workforce and off other costly state benefits.

“I want to provide a hand up, not a permanent handout, and I think the idea here is it’s not enough to just say, ‘You should go find a job.’ We’re willing to put our money where our mouth is and say we’ll train you,” Walker said.

The scope of the proposed changes is ambitious, reaching from 4-year-old kindergarten through university study and into training in the workplace. The measure draws on reports by Competitive Wisconsin, former Bucyrus International executive Tim Sullivan and Walker’s Read to Lead Task Force.

More investments in education will likely come in the budget, but likely not be enough to placate Democrats. They’ve stewed about Walker’s higher-education cuts in the current budget, which included some $300 million over two years to the University of Wisconsin System alone.

“Governor Walker made the biggest cuts to education and worker training in our state’s history,” said budget committee member Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “It has widened our skills gap and resulted in waiting lists (at technical colleges) of up to three years in some high-demand professions.”

Walker made the UW cuts – as well as ones to local governments and school districts – just after approving a measure that all but eliminated collective bargaining for public workers and required them to pay more for their pensions and health care.

He argued Friday that those savings and the added flexibility offset the cuts, and that to him his proposed spending in the next budget amounts to new money.

FoodShare

The FoodShare proposal would not affect the elderly, disabled or those with minor children. It would limit able-bodied recipients’ benefits to three months over any three-year period unless they are working or doing at least 20 hours per week of job training or searches.

The state will attract federal matching funds for the training costs for a total of $33 million over two years.

The proposal will face skepticism from advocates such as Sherrie Tussler, executive director of Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee. Tussler remembers previous state requirements as creating more jobs for social workers than it did for FoodShare recipients, who she said were taught just basic skills.

“There’s this huge bureaucracy to get people to do the work and make sure they’ve done it. It ends up costing more to mandate the work than the good you get. . . . You’re trying to take away people’s food to get them to get a job,” she said.

Currently, the training element to the program is voluntary, and Tussler said she has struggled to get state funding for a proposal to pay FoodShare participants $10 an hour to work at a farm growing vegetables for the needy. That’s because of tight federal restrictions, she said.

Technical Colleges

The governor is also proposing linking current state funding to technical schools with their performance at placing their more than 78,000 students in the right jobs.

Starting in 2014, Walker wants 10% of the general state aid to technical colleges to be awarded based on job placement and how well the schools do at catering to fields that are in high demand.

That percentage would ramp up in future years, until all state funds would be allocated on a performance basis, starting in 2020.

The technical colleges would see a $5 million boost in general state aid, bringing it to $88.5 million a year. That’s a 5.9% boost in its current funding, but does not come close to replacing all the money Walker cut from technical colleges in 2011.

That year, funding for technical schools dropped by 30%, from $119.3 million to $83.5 million.

The $88.5 million Walker will propose for technical colleges accounts for just a sliver of overall funding for those schools, which also receive property taxes, tuition and federal aid.

UW System

For state universities, Walker is proposing awarding $20 million for programs that help the economy, develop a skilled workforce and make higher education more affordable.

He also plans to give $2 million to the UW System to start up its flexible degree program – about two-thirds of the $3 million the system had requested.

The program is meant to allow people already in the workforce to get degrees in programs such as nursing, information systems or medical imaging more quickly by getting credits for knowledge they already have, whether they learned it on a job site or through online courses.

Walker’s budget would also require the university and technical college systems to establish a core set of 30 college credits that can be transferred between all public institutions in the state.

Private colleges would have a chance to opt into that system.

In a provision that could rankle GOP lawmakers, Walker wants to allow the UW-Madison chancellor to determine the pay plan for employees without going through the Legislature.

Similarly, the UW Board of Regents would be able to set pay for other campuses without getting sign-off from lawmakers – flexibility that UW System President Kevin Reilly said was essential to closing a pay gap with salaries at other institutions.

“Over time, if we can’t give our people hope we’ll be able to close that 18 percentage point gap, people who are mobile and attractive to other universities will leave,” Reilly said. “The biggest threat to students of the future is that they will not be taught by the best and brightest.”

Health care

Walker’s budget would also seek to increase the number of doctors and dentists in Wisconsin, particularly in rural areas.

It would:

  • Provide $7.4 million in bonding so the Medical College of Wisconsin could establish campuses in the Green Bay and Wausau areas. In addition, the college would receive $1.75 million over two years to add 12 more family medicine residents.
  • Give $3 million over two years to the UW School of Medicine so it can expand training for doctors who will serve rural areas and inner cities.
  • Provide $4 million for rural hospitals so they can receive national accreditation and take on medical residents, along with $1 million in grants to hospitals so they can take more doctors in training.
  • Give $520,000 to the Marquette Dental School so it can expand.
  • Provide $5 million to the Wisconsin Health Information Organization, which is meant to make health care costs more transparent and make people wiser health care consumers.

Education, other items

Walker’s budget would also expand testing in schools so by the 11th grade teachers can identify and better prepare students who are ready for college or a career when they graduate.

The testing would cost $11.5 million over two years and would be covered by the state. The proposal would also screen the reading readiness of students in 4-year-old kindergarten and first grade in the fall of 2013. The following year, screening would also be used for second-graders. The plan would cost $2.8 million over two years.

Starting in sixth grade, students could develop an academic and career plan, under Walker’s budget. The plan would be updated throughout a student’s school career so he or she can graduate from high school with a job plan. Schools would receive about $1.1 million starting in the fall of 2014.

The second set of Walker’s proposed workforce changes will be stand-alone legislation that will be introduced on Monday, said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). He said he hoped to pass the measure by the end of March.

That bill would cost $20 million over two years and would:

  • Spend $15 million over two years in grants to organizations that train workers.
  • The competitive grants would go to technical colleges, local workforce boards and regional economic development organizations working in partnership with state businesses, which could provide matching funds.
  • Create a four-person state Office of Skills Development to coordinate the scattered worker-training systems of the state and adapt them to the needs of employers.
  • Spend roughly $5 million to develop a system to better track the state’s labor market by some time in 2014.

If successful, it would more quickly deliver to students, guidance counselors and businesses data from the state’s unemployment system that currently takes six months to become public.

The system would link jobless workers to openings they are qualified to fill and provide students and guidance counselors with better information about career opportunities. If successful in getting the unemployed back to work even a week sooner, the system could save the state tens of millions of dollars.

Walker, who has struggled to meet his pledge to create 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, said the system wasn’t an attempt to gloss over the current figures, just deliver the same data more quickly.

From wkow.com: “Democrats say Gov. Walker is interested in their jobs ideas” — MADISON — Senate and Assembly Democrats are trying to get ahead of the game on job creation in an attempt to make themselves more relevant this legislative session.

“Representative Barca and I have had two meetings already with the Governor, and we’ve talked about some of our initiatives and some of the things that we want to see,” said Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), the Senate Minority Leader.

One of those initiatives is a competitive grant training program.

That allows businesses or economic development agencies to partner with local technical colleges to develop projects that focus on increasing skills in high employment areas.

The best ideas get the grants.

“These are jobs that are advertised, if only they had the training. So we believe we need to focus on workforce training,” said Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), the Assembly Minority Leader.

Another proposal would allow out-of-state investors to receive refundable tax credits for supporting high-tech start-ups and entrepreneurs.  Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) said expanding those credits beyond Wisconsin’s borders will only boost the economic growth they’ve already created.

“For $11 million in tax credits, those funds leveraged in Wisconsin a total financing of $152 million for our entrepreneurs and small businesses in our state,” said Sen. Lassa.

But Rep. Fred Clark (D-Sauk City) says existing small businesses also need financial help.  That’s why he is proposing an up-front tax credit which would help a business owner secure a loan for expansion or equipment.

He said many current small business tax credits for things like that go unused.

“I worked with a business owner who actually could have benefited from a provision that we passed in 2009, giving a tax credit for purchase of harvesting equipment in forestry.  What the owner said to me was, ‘what good is it if nobody will borrow me the money to operate the thing,'” said Rep. Clark.

The Governor’s office confirmed that they are looking at the Democratic proposals, and say they will discuss them further after the full budget is released on February 20th.

Video from wkow.com

From wispolitics.com: “Tech college system ready for performance-based approach”– Wisconsin Tech College System President Morna Foy says that performance-based funding is certainly the right direction to go in paying for the state’s higher education efforts. She just wants to see it done in steps, not all at once.

“Our budget request actually requests a performance funding component,” Foy told WisPolitics.com during her first week in her new post. She said she hopes Gov. Scott Walker’s plans include a “measured approach.”

For the time being, WTCS has requested only a $2 million increase in general aid to be tied to certain performance metrics. The system has suggested using things like job placement rates, the number of students graduating with a diploma or certificate or the number of programs tied to “Technical Skill Attainment” within various industries. The money would come in the second year of the budget to allow system officials time to build a new performance-based system.

It’s a step the system is willing to take.

That’s because Foy, a long-time administrator for WTCS and a former Legislative Audit Bureau project analyst, understands the desire of Walker and lawmakers to tie the system’s funding to performance in areas like job creation and job placement. She says the system should be accountable to taxpayers and businesses looking to narrow the skills gap in the state. However, she wants to make sure that legislators know which approaches work and which don’t.

“Tennessee is always the state that’s brought up because they’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Foy said. “They’ve gone to a fully, 100 percent outcome-based funding mechanism. But it took them awhile to get there, and they didn’t stick with the performance measures they had 30 years ago. … They gave themselves the flexibility to tweak and modify and dump.”

That doesn’t just have to apply to WTCS, Foy said. Walker has suggested performance measures for the University of Wisconsin System, but some higher ed observers have been skeptical of how that would work at the comprehensive four-year universities. Foy said that while UW and WTCS have different missions — and that they’d likely need to measure some different outcomes — such an approach could work.

“I do think that there are going to be different challenges for both of our systems in developing appropriate models and collecting the data and tracking it,” Foy said. “We’re hoping that we’re going to build [accountability systems], and I think the university’s hope would also be the same. That there will be this process … will build more connection between us and policy makers and constituents. And it’s going to strengthen our focus.”

But Foy says that if the tech colleges are going to help boost the state economy and get people back in good-paying, sustainable jobs, they’re going to need more resources to do it. And while the Act 10 changes did offer some breathing room, it wasn’t a “one-for-one tradeoff” after the system’s state support was cut by nearly 30 percent. The agency estimates that after Act 10 savings were accounted for, a total of $20.4 million was lost over the biennium.

“I think we are kind of at a point right now where we are managing our finances, but we are being asked to do more than just manage our finances and do more than what we did last year. We’re being asked not just to serve our students, but do new things: deliver education in more dynamic ways, reach off more off campus and create more opportunities for different kind of learners in different kind of situations.”

That’s why WTCS has requested a $88 million increase in categorical aid to target a new class of 39,000 additional students. That includes $60 million over the biennium for Wisconsin Skills Link, which would dole out competitive grants to students looking for longer-term solutions to boosting their chances in the workforce as well. The system also requested $20 million for Adult Career Pathways, a program that attempts to incrementally boost the occupational skills and credentials of Wisconsin residents as they simultaneously make their way up through different levels of employment.

While Foy hopes legislators see fit to let WTCS focus on these priorities or offer other grants, she’s just happy that state government is committing to a new investment in workforce development.

“We’re just excited about the idea that the state is prioritizing this,” Foy said. “You know it’s been a problem for years. Most of the money that came for this very targeted reason came from the federal government. Because the federal government has got all these rules about it and it’s not necessarily sensitive or in tune with what Wisconsin needs or, even farther down, what local communities need or want.”

While Foy wants to make sure the system is responding to different stakeholders across the state, a move by Republicans in the last session made the case that the business community was being left out. Rep. Mark Honadel and Sen. Glenn Grothman introduced companion bills that would have amended the composition of technical college district boards to include at least six members from the business community. Right now, boards must have at least two employers out of their nine members. That bill was later amended to mandate that the Milwaukee Area Technical College Board should include at least five employers.

Foy believes the system is already responsive to the needs of the business community and that the district boards, which already guarantee employers a seat at the table, aren’t the only way to make their needs known to the system.

“Every single one of our programs, more than 300 across the state, has an advisory board made up of employers,” Foy said. “Those are the individuals that tell us, ‘What you are teaching in that program is not what we are doing in the workplace.’ Or ‘Yes, there was a time that we needed an IT specialist in blah blah. We’ve evolved. That’s not what we’re doing anymore.’”

From lacrossetribune.com: “Jennifer Shilling: Wisconsin must narrow its ‘skills gap’ — As Wisconsin continues to struggle with the effects of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, employers are still having a difficult time finding workers with the necessary skills to fill vacant positions.

Workforce development professionals refer to this as the “skills gap.” Narrowing that gap and ensuring that Wisconsin’s workforce has the necessary skills to meet the needs of current and emerging industries needs to be a priority as we continue to pursue efforts to get our economy moving again.

On Sept. 19, Sen. Jessica King and I convened a hearing about job training and workforce development to learn about the skills gap and discuss ways the Legislature can be a more effective partner in addressing Wisconsin’s workforce training needs.

This hearing was an opportunity for elected officials and stakeholders to have an open dialogue about important workforce development issues confronting Wisconsin, including the skills gap. We heard from the state Department of Workforce Development, as well as representatives from technical colleges, businesses, and the construction trades who are engaged in public-private partnerships that provide training in high demand occupations.

Two main themes emerged from that hearing:

  • Wisconsin’s technical colleges, businesses, construction trades and other community partners are engaged in many successful local and regional worker training initiatives throughout the state, and we need to find a way to build on these success stories on a statewide level.
  • Adequate resources are needed, including both public and private sector investments, to move workers through the educational pipeline and get them ready to enter the workforce with the proper skills in a timely manner.

The 2011-13 state budget, which I voted against, cut funding for the Wisconsin Technical College System by 30 percent, which put state funding assistance for our technical colleges at a level not seen since the 1980s. Consequently, technical colleges reported almost 12,000 students on waiting lists for high-demand programs throughout the state in June.

It doesn’t take a workforce development expert to make the connection between the significant funding cut for our technical colleges and the growing skills gap dilemma facing our state.

With the next legislative session scheduled to begin in about three months, now is the time to consider our options, have a bipartisan discussion and come up with proposals to tackle our state’s top priorities: preparing Wisconsin’s workforce to meet the needs of employers and growing our state’s economy.

As a member of the Governor’s Council on College and Workforce Readiness, I attend regular meetings focused on creating a bipartisan package of job creation and workforce development recommendations for Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature to consider during the upcoming legislative session and state budget process. I’m hopeful that the work of this council will lead to more bipartisan cooperation in addressing our state’s educational and workforce development needs.

I have confidence that Wisconsin can meet the needs of employers and employees in current and emerging industries, and I also appreciate the limited resources with which we have to work. By including all stakeholders, continuing to have an open dialogue and learning about successful workforce training efforts in high demand occupational fields, we can better understand how to direct our resources to develop and foster a successful statewide workforce development strategy.

From jsonline.com: “Mixed reviews for tech schools’ request to boost student aid” — While lawmakers in Madison acknowledge the need to invest in Wisconsin’s technical colleges, it remains to be seen if they are willing to nearly double the amount of money available for state-financed student financial aid grants in the next state budget.

Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), vice chair of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, said in a statement there is a very real need to get people the type of training technical colleges provide. Hansen also said the request will require closer examination.

“What we can afford and whether it makes more sense to invest it in more financial aid or providing more instructional opportunities is something we will need to take a close look at,” Hansen said.

It is reasonable for the board to request the additional funding, said Mike Mikalsen, speaking for Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater). But Mikalsen said he was not sure if the governor would have the money available to meet the request. He added that if money were available for education, it may be directed toward the K-12 system instead.

Last week the technical college system board requested an additional $34.1 million for Wisconsin Higher Education Grants. The request would be in addition to the nearly $37.6 million the system received in the current budget. Technical college spokeswoman Morna Foy said the money is necessary because of a growing need to help students find a way to pay for school. For the coming school year, the system was not able to give grants to 49,000 eligible students.

Cullen Werwie, speaking for Gov. Scott Walker, said in an email the specific request will be evaluated in the context of the entire state budget.

Sen. Jessica King (D-Oshkosh), chair of the Committee on Job Training, Technical Colleges and Workforce Development, said the technical colleges need to be made a priority.

Citizens are beginning to understand there is a gap between the demand employers have for skilled workers and the number of available employees, King said. She said the skills gap presents an opportunity for lawmakers to come together.

Foy said she is glad to hear lawmakers are open to the request and wouldn’t expect them to consider it outside of the context of the full budget.

“It is up to us to make the case,” she said.

Foy added, “Students’ financial need is so great right now.”

She said students are often likely to enroll and also less likely to stay at technical colleges because of their economic situation. That works against the system’s efforts to attract more students to fields where employers have a demand for skilled workers, Foy said.

Before the last state budget, the technical college board requested an additional $23.4 million over two years, but the request did not make it into the governor’s proposed budget.

Werwie noted the budget that did pass included no cuts in student financial aid. He said it was important that training at technical colleges leads directly to available jobs.

He also said the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation is developing partnerships between private businesses and local technical colleges, providing grant money paired with available jobs.

Earlier this week, the foundation announced nearly $3.8 million in grants to five of the state’s technical colleges.

“It’s a good thing that businesses are chipping in to provide assistance for training,” Werwie said.

Foy said the foundation’s grant program is important, but added that because the program is targeted at jobs with certain employers, it will not be able to replace the higher education grant.

Mikalsen said Nass, chair of the Committee on Colleges and Universities, would like to see local technical college boards take steps to save money.

“It’s not just a simple equation of raising tuition,” Mikalsen said.

He said the technical college system must focus on the demand for certain jobs within local areas, rather than just getting more students through the door.

From WisBusiness.com: “Clancy interview: Outgoing WTCS president reflects on state tech school needs” — Dan Clancy, the retiring head of Wisconsin’s technical colleges, says his successor will need to advocate for greater funding as the system’s 16 campuses push to close the so-called skills gap between what graduates know and what employers are demanding.

Still, Clancy, whose last day is Sept. 14, said he thinks his colleges are doing a good job of adapting to changing needs and preparing some students to go on to four-year colleges, including those in the University of Wisconsin system.

Right now Clancy said he’s busy drafting a budget proposal for the 2013-2015 biennium.

“Our board will definitely be requesting additional funds,” he said. “I’ll have it to the point of being approved by the board, but my successor will have to shepherd it through the Legislature and governor.”

The 2011-13 budget cut state aid to the tech schools by 30 percent, or $71.6 million, over two years.

Clancy is optimistic funding will increase, but he said legislators need to understand that for every dollar invested in tech schools, there is a return of $6.

“I think this coming budget will be better than the last, now that the state is in better fiscal shape,” he said. “My guess is there will be funds for some priority areas, including workforce development … and solving the skills gap.”

Clancy said he also hopes to get increased support for scholarships from the state Higher Education Aids Board.

“We’ve made that a high priority, too,” he said. “That’s been a significant issue for our students, the ability to afford a technical college education.”

Clancy, 57, became president of the tech schools in 2004. Before that, he was the system’s vice president for finance and policy, directing budget development, legislative relations and policy analysis, among other things. A native of Detroit, he worked for the state of Wisconsin for more than three decades, including 17 years with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Clancy said the “workforce paradox” — where companies have jobs available but can’t find the workers to fill them — is a national issue. He said the guv and other state leaders have made solving this problem a top priority.

“All states are facing a similar dilemma,” he said. “There are jobs to be filled, but employers say there is a mismatch between what they need and what people are bringing to the table.”

He said this is most common at Wisconsin’s advanced manufacturing companies. For example, they are demanding workers with high-tech skills to run numeric-controlled machines and do sophisticated welding.

“They are finding they have to do extra training,” he said. “They would like to have candidates go through a tech college program, either one or two years. But we are having difficulty attracting people to those fields.”

He said many prospective employees do not understand how modern manufacturing has changed and have an image of an industry that may not have a strong economic future.

“It’s not the old industrial work setting that it was 30 years ago,” Clancy said. “It’s cleaner, more comfortable and it’s high-tech. But parents and students may not understand that.”

He said tech schools and employers need to explain today’s manufacturing environment and the salaries those jobs have. In addition, he said today’s students need to have a stronger background in math and science in high school and a better understanding of how to use technology, as well as so-called “soft skills” needed for employment in the modern workplace.

To meet employers’ demands, he said tech colleges have changed curricula, breaking down courses into shorter components so students can, for example, attend a “boot camp” in which they get a certificate in the basics of modern welding.

This gets workers on the “first rung” of the employment ladder without needing to be in school for a long time, he said.

“Then they’ll need to come back and get additional training so they can advance on the job,” Clancy said. “We call that career pathways. It really helps people who have lost their jobs, especially older workers who want get employed again fast. It helps on the employers’ side, too, because they need workers quickly, too.”

In many cases, he said manufacturers are willing to pay to train those workers.

“So we are very flexible on when we offer that kind of training, at night and on weekends and online,” he said, noting that some companies are doing their own advanced training after tech schools have taught them the basics.

Looking back, Clancy said he is proud of the work he’s done to foster increased cooperation between tech school and the UW System, with greater opportunities for students to transfer credits into upper division programs.

He said Wisconsin’s vocational colleges have handled significant growth well, with the population now at more than 400,000 – an increase of roughly 40 percent in full-time-equivalent students.

“Based on who we have been serving the last four or five years, we have helped thousands and thousands of people who lost their jobs get retrained. They want to have a family-sustaining job and career.

“And for students, especially in rural areas, tech school training can be life changing,” he said. “That’s pretty amazing.”

Audio of Clancy interview

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “State funds police, fire training at different levels” — 

Police and firefighters both are necessary for public safety, but the state funds training for each group differently.

A state Department of Safety and Professional Services fund helps pay for firefighter training. It is covered by 2 percent of the premiums homeowners pay for fire insurance, said Peter Silva, fire service education director for the Wisconsin Technical College System, which governs firefighter training for the 16 technical colleges statewide.

“Most volunteer departments wouldn’t be able to afford the training without it,” he said.

Technical colleges that provide the training are to be reimbursed by the state. About $600,000 a year in that fund helps pay for training costs statewide, said Clark Wagner, director of financial operations for Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

The state covers training tuition but not a student’s books, travel or lodging fees, said Tom Vandenack, fire training coordinator at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Some fire departments can pay for training through their budgets, he said.

“We try to provide as much training as possible to the departments that our budget will allow us to do.”

The college trains up to 800 new and experienced firefighters a year and makes an effort to lower costs by increasing class sizes and coordinating sessions, he said.

Paying for police training

The state handles funding for police training differently.

Wisconsin law enforcement officers are required to have at least 520 hours of training before entering the field.

The state Department of Justice’s law enforcement training fund pays $2,950 for an officer to receive that training, in addition to some travel and mileage expenses. However, officers must first be employed by a law enforcement agency and finish the course.

The state paid more than $625,000 for employed officers to receive minimum training requirements from July 2010 to June 2011, according to state data. And that number could grow by another $12,500 for training that occurred during that time, said Dana Vike, compliance officer for the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Training and Standards Bureau.

The state has covered training for fewer officers in recent years because more recruits are paying for their own training before being hired by a law enforcement agency, she said.

“It’s nice that the state pays the training tuition and covers some of the costs, but at the same time, the agency is still responsible for that person’s salary and other benefits. Then they are out of money if it doesn’t work out. With budgets being tighter, I think more agencies are trying to find individuals that have finished training.”

About 80 percent of students pay for their own 13-week training, which costs about $3,000, according to Chris Madson, who coordinates public safety training at NWTC.

“The trend is now going to hiring officers after they’ve already finished with training,” he said.

The state also pays up to $160 a year for each employed officer’s continued training, Vike added.

“It can get extremely expensive to bring somebody in who hasn’t been through the state-mandated 520 hours of training,” Green Bay police Lt. Jody Buth said.

Police departments must pay an officer’s salary and benefits, but the officer must finish training before he or she can respond to police calls, Buth said. If the officer drops out of the course or fails, the department is left with the costs.

The Green Bay Police Department rarely pays for a recruit’s training, Buth said.

Green Bay police recently hired six new officers, ages 22 to 32, all of whom arrived having met training requirements, Buth said.

Police also look for candidates who at least have an associate degree in police science or a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement, Buth said.

The state Department of Justice’s Law Enforcement Standards Board, which sets training guidelines, was created in 1970. The state has 19 certified law enforcement-training facilities, also known as academies. Some law enforcement agencies have their own academies, including the State Patrol and Milwaukee and Madison police departments.

Recruits are now equipped with video cameras on their helmets when learning to handle traffic stops or domestic disputes, Madson said. Those playing the role of suspects during the scenarios also wear cameras, which allows recruits to later review their own demeanor and body language.

“It has worked out very well for critique purposes for students,” he said.

Madson expects patrol officers to use the cameras in the future.

Trainers also have put more focus on communication, he added.

“It’s important to know how to talk to people and know how to listen to them. It can make a difference whether you need to go hands-on or resolve a situation through normal talking.”

Fire training

The funding differential comes at a time when fire crews are presented with new dangers, noted Silva of the Wisconsin Technical College System. For example, a firefighter attempting to free a person trapped in an electric car can become electrocuted by cutting an electric line, he said.

“People don’t design things with firefighters in mind, so we have to work around them,” he said.

House fires can involve burning furniture made of hazardous materials, he added.

State law requires an on-duty firefighter to have at least 60 hours of training, he said.

The Wisconsin Technical College System follows the standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.

Green Bay fire Capt. Dustin Ridings said the scope of firefighter training has increased in the past 10 years.

“It’s not just riding a truck and squirting water out of a hose,” said Ridings, noting that firefighters must know about fluid dynamics and search and rescue techniques.

Many applicants for the Green Bay Fire Department already are certified paramedics with credentials that require at least 162 hours of training and coursework.

From rhinelanderdailynews.com: “Nicolet College already looking for savings in 2012-2013 budget” — The exact deficit Nicolet Area Technical College will face in the 2012-13 budget may not be known yet, but college officials know one thing: the state imposed property tax levy freeze that already affected this year’s budget planning will still be in place. Considering the recent trends of increasing enrollment and other costs that typically see a jump every year, for Nicolet officials it all means, as the adage says, finding a way to do more with less.

While the effects the second year of the tax levy freeze will have on Nicolet College won’t be felt for several more months, college officials have already begun looking at areas where cost savings can be realized in the 2012-13 budget. Tuesday night, during the monthly meeting of the college’s board of trustees, that discussion revolved around changes covering employee leave benefits, health insurance benefits for retirees, and the terms for instructors’ teaching assignments, all areas currently under a collective bargaining agreement that runs through June 2012.

“We’ve had our flexibility taken away (with the levy unable to change this year and next year) and we have to be able to fit our operations into that,” said Sandy Kinney, Nicolet’s executive director of communications. “It’s too early to tell (what kind of deficit there will be for 2012-13), but it’s planning ahead. We know our revenue will not substantially change and some costs go up every year. A majority of our money is spent for salaries and benefits.”

Read more from rhinelanderdailynews.com

 

From postcrescent.com: “Wisconsin Assembly approves college grants bill” — MADISON — The state Assembly gave preliminary approval early Friday to a bill that would prohibit state officials from using race as a factor in determining college grant recipients.

The bill has been a flashpoint of controversy in the Legislature over the last three days. The Republican measure originally made largely technical challenges to a $4.4 million program that offers grants to the most needy and educationally disadvantaged students attending college in Wisconsin. About 4,300 students qualify every year.

In a surprise move Tuesday, Democratic state Rep. Peggy Krusick broke with her party and offered an amendment to eliminate race as a factor in awarding the grants. Majority Republicans attached the language to the bill, leaving Democrats furious.

They spent nine hours Tuesday night into Wednesday morning railing against the measure, calling it an affront to minority rights. Republicans countered that race shouldn’t be a consideration in determining who gets aid based on financial need.

Read more from postcrescent.com

 

From badgerherald.com: “JFC passes bill to increase technical college grants” —  The Joint Finance Committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would provide a $400,000 increase in manufacturing grants for state technical colleges.

Under Senate Bill 40, the existing Workforce Advancement Training Grant program, which received $2 million for the 2010-2011 school year, would receive $2.4 million for 2011-2012, according to the bill.

The program is a public-private partnership, matching the needs of employers with the capabilities of college training, said Teghan DeLane, spokesperson for Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee.

“It’s about job development,” DeLane said. “It’s people getting back to work, giving them the training to get back to work.”

Companies will identify a need for some kind of technical training within their organization for current employees, and in collaboration with a technical college, develop customized training, according to Morna Foy, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The funds provide special courses for employees that aren’t usually offered by standard curriculum at the technical colleges.

Read more from badgerherald.com

From oakcreek.patch.com: “Tax on wealthy proposed to restore technical school funding” — Two Democratic legislators want a 1 percent income tax increase on the state’s wealthiest tax filers to pay for job training.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, and State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, are proposing a tax increase on Wisconsin residents earning over $1 million a year to reinstate technical school funding eliminated from the biennial state budget.

The proposed tax rate would increase from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent and could generate $70 million in its first year if enacted. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, there are about 2,900 tax filers who would fit this profile.

“Middle class families and workers have been asked to make tremendous sacrifices in recent months,” said Mason in a written statement. “This bill asks Wisconsin’s wealthiest individuals to share a small amount of that sacrifice in order to train and educate at least 35,000 Wisconsin workers.”

Named the Wisconsin Jobs Initiative, Mason’s and Larson’s proposal would restore some $34 million for the Wisconsin Technical College System cut from the 2011-2013 state budget. The Initiative would also allocate almost $35 million for training and education, help dislocated workers and give technical schools the ability to welcome more students.

Read more from oakcreek.patch.com

From ashlandcurrent.com: “Wisconsin colleges, universities staggering from funding losses” — Rigorous belt-tightening is becoming the mantra at college and universities in Wisconsin and nationwide as states struggle to overcome staggering deficits.

Gov. Scott Walker’s aggressive two-year budget plan will reduce the University of Wisconsin System’s budget by $250 million. UW-Superior’s share exceeded $3 million, according to State Rep. Nick Milroy.

The state’s technical college system, meanwhile, lost 30 percent of its funding, said State Sen. Bob Jauch.

“I don’t even know how they’ll keep their doors open,” Milroy said.

In northern Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College system won’t be hit quite as hard as other campuses. Still, it will lose about $1.4 million in funding, CFO Steve Decker told BusinessNorth.

“We’ve eliminated six-and-a-half positions” spread across the system’s four campuses and four outreach centers, he said, which includes some through retirements. “Without filling those positions, we’ve had to eliminate some courses at some campuses,” he said.

The funding reduction comes at a time when area employers need more welders and nurses – but the WITC system can’t educate students fast enough to meet demand.

 

From postcrescent.com: Burning Questions: FVTC’s May talks about college’s mission” — Fox Valley Technical College has been providing education to the people of this area for many years.

A hundred of them, to be exact.

FVTC is celebrating a milestone birthday this year. It’s one that the college wants to share with the nine counties it serves through its Grand Chute campus as well as its Oshkosh campus, its five regional centers and its nine training centers.

“We officially kick off what will be a yearlong celebration,” said Susan May, FVTC’s president. “What we want to do is use many of our existing events to do a little special something to celebrate that.

“We’re also doing some special things. A very nifty centennial website has been created that people can go in and share stories that they have about their interactions with the college. We’re really encouraging people to take a look at the photos we have from back to the early 1900s and share their stories.

“While celebrating that history, we’re thinking a lot about what the future holds and how we begin to build the next century of service to our communities.”

As the guest on last week’s Newsmakers online interview show at postcrescent. com, May talked about FVTC’s mission, what makes it unique and what’s ahead for the college this year.

From BusinessNorth.com: “State aid reductions leave Wisconsin schools suffering to different degrees” — Rigorous belt-tightening is becoming the mantra at college and universities in Wisconsin and nationwide as states struggle to overcome staggering deficits.

Gov. Scott Walker’s aggressive two-year budget plan will reduce the University of Wisconsin System’s budget by $250. UW-Superior’s share exceeded $3 million, according to State Rep. Nick Milroy.

The state’s technical college system, meanwhile, lost 30 percent of its funding, said State Sen. Bob Jauch.

“I don’t even know how they’ll keep their doors open,” Milroy said.

In northern Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College system won’t be hit quite as hard as other campuses. Still, it will lose about $1.4 million in funding, CFO Steve Decker told BusinessNorth.

“We’ve eliminated six-and-a-half positions” spread across the system’s four campuses and four outreach centers, he said, which includes some through retirements. “Without filling those positions, we’ve had to eliminate some courses at some campuses,” he said.

The funding reduction comes at a time when area employers need more welders and nurses – but the WITC system can’t educate students fast enough to meet demand.

“We’ve always had waiting lists,” Decker said, “but with the budget cuts, those lists probably will get longer.”

Jauch said the administration refused to target funding specifically for those high-demand programs despite the documented need.

Read more from BusinessNorth.com

From Wisconsin Public Television: “Wisconsin’s budget and the state’s technical college system” — Frederica Freyberg spotlights Wisconsin’s budget and the state’s technical college system.

View video

From the Fond du Lac Reporter: “New MPTC president returns to roots”– Sheila Ruhland is ready to take on the challenge of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill as new president of Moraine Park Technical College.

The two-year, $66-billion state budget, headed to Walker’s desk after it cleared the state Legislature with only Republican votes, cuts aid to technical colleges by 30 percent, or $72 million.

“I recognize the work ahead and the challenges we are now faced with,” Ruhland said. “I am coming aboard to join a very strong team set up under the previous leadership.”

Federal budget cuts that support career technical education also appear to be eminent, she said.

“No doubt the cuts will have an impact on our school and our property tax levy, as well as collective bargaining with our faculty and staff. I intend to provide leadership and support to these groups,” Ruhland said.

 

From the LaCrosse Tribune: “Colleges do the lost-aid shuffle” — 

Staff cuts and financial juggling will help the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Western Technical College absorb the impact of the pending cuts in the state budget bill passed last week.

Anticipating a $2.4 million reduction because of the bill, Western officials opted to eliminate 12 full-time faculty and staff positions. Seven will be laid off and five vacated positions will be phased out, effective next month.

Wade Hackbarth, controller for Western, called the state aid cut a major issue.

Facing about $10.4 million in possible cuts for the next biennium, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse officials will eliminate two non-faculty staff positions in the university’s tech department through attrition as part of its plans, but there will be no layoffs, said Bob Hetzel, UW-L vice chancellor for administration and finance.

More from LaCrosse Tribune

From The Northwestern: “Cutting technical colleges at odds with job growth”– Something funny happened on the way to 250,000 jobs. As Wisconsin was embroiled in a debilitating debate over collective bargaining for public employees, Gov. Scott Walker submitted a biennium budget that undermines the ability of the state to attract and retain the good paying jobs needed to stabilize and expand our economy. Not only does the budget dramatically reduce spending on all levels of education, it introduces structural changes that will fundamentally undermine the quality and accessibility of education in the state through the expansion of school vouchers.

Another troubling, but less publicized, part of the budget calls for a substantial reduction in aid for Wisconsin’s Technical College System, which serves as the primary conduit for getting manufacturers and other businesses the skilled workforce they need. It is incomprehensible that institutions so intricately tied to re-training workers, building a skilled workforce and meeting the needs of expanding businesses would be in line for sharp reductions in aid from a state supposedly open for business.

 

Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges understand they must share the burden resulting from the State’s major budget deficit.  However, the 30 percent annual cut in state funding represents, by far, the largest proportional cut than what is proposed for any other level of education or local government.  This, along with a strict freeze on local revenue will inhibit responsiveness to job creators in our communities.

Wisconsin’s technical colleges help keep the economy humming. They are responsive to business leaders’ needs and provide students with bang for their buck. They’re so popular, in fact, that enrollment is up 40 percent statewide in the last decade.

There’s only one problem. The state is in a budget crisis, and technical colleges are facing cuts just like many other state agencies, communities and schools.

More of this editorial from postcrescent.com

STEVENS POINT — The state budget proposal could have unintended consequences that adversely affect economic development, even as Gov. Scott Walker touts a plan to create 250,000 new jobs, leaders said Wednesday.

During a panel discussion at the Central Wisconsin Alliance for Economic Development’s Regional Economic Summit in Stevens Point, leaders from both the public and private sector said sweeping cuts to education coupled with Medicaid reform could impact development indirectly, thus slowing recovery.

 

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