Both Assembly and Senate versions of the state budget result in funding reductions to Wisconsin's technical colleges at a time when the state needs to invest more in the system, according to officials of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). Leaders of the WTCS have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala and Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, urging the State Budget Conference Committee to consider the impact the current budget proposals would have on a sluggish state economy in need of highly trained workers.
The WTCS contends that without proper support, it cannot address the state's inadequate supply of skilled workers, a problem identified by many state citizens and employers as a crisis in the making. The letter is signed by WTCS State Director Edward Chin, Western Wisconsin Technical College President Lee Rasch on behalf of the college presidents, and Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association Executive Director Paul Gabriel.
The letter advises, "Either current budget plan will erode the technical colleges' quality and ability to serve just as Wisconsin's economy slows. This will result in great harm to the state over time and inhibits one of the very best and most cost-effective tools Wisconsin has to preserve and grow its quality of life and competitiveness-Wisconsin Technical Colleges."
WTCS leadership maintains that as state support erodes, all districts must place a greater burden on local taxpayers to maintain even current service levels. All districts must also cover, through local tax increases, unavoidable expenses such as increases for energy, health insurance coverage, faculty and staff salaries, and other costs. Additionally, districts must cover the loss of millions of dollars in revenue capacity through immediate implementation of agricultural land assessment at use-value. These reductions translate into higher local tax rates or significant program cuts. "Moraine Park has always taken a conservative approach to its budget and we are very concerned with the mill rate and the local tax levied on our district residents," said Moraine Park Technical College President Dr. Jack Shanahan. "We are continually looking for ways to keep costs down and hope our legislators reconsider their current budget proposal so we are able to continue offering the same high quality programs and services we presently offer."
Both budget plans maintain reductions proposed in the Governor's initial budget bill such as cutting the Capacity Grant program by $5 million, and additionally cut student grants for recent high school graduates seeking high-tech training. The WTCS has proposed state aid increases to address the waiting lists of students desiring to enter high skill training programs leading to well-paying jobs, such as those in nursing, computer information systems, and machining.
Moraine Park Technical College, with campuses in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and West Bend, joined the Wisconsin Technical College System since 1967. The College offers a variety of educational and training opportunities, including more than 80 associate degree, technical diploma and certificate programs. In addition to its three campuses, Moraine Park has regional sites in Ripon, Mayville and Hartford, along with several other instructional centers throughout the district. The College offers also offers numerous distance learning opportunities including over 80 classes available online. The Moraine Park web site is located at www.morainepark.com