Wisconsin technical college students would have had a tuition-free education, under a proposal Democrats unsuccessfully tried to get added to the state budget.
Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee argued the plan, which carried a $555 million price tag over the next biennium, would have been an effective way to address a shortage of skilled workers in the state and help provide a boost to the economy. “If we want to give everybody in communities all over the state the opportunity to make their life better, then this is part of the way we do it,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).
Republicans on the panel criticized the plan as not really being free though, and argued that those seeking a higher degree should be invested in the process. Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) noted that he attended a two year college by working several jobs, and argued that the Democrats’ plan makes it easier for people to delay adulthood. “You need to have some buy-in into your education,” he argued. “It is your education.”
The Republican-controlled panel did vote to reject a tuition freeze for tech colleges that Governor Scott Walker had proposed in his budget. Co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) said they believe the system is already a good bargain, so the freeze is not needed at this time.