Following the general wisdom that says, “Leave well enough alone,” let’s not mess with the basic structure that supports the Wisconsin Technical College System (WCTS).
Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature have opened the subject by proposing a property tax cut of more than $400 million through the mechanism of reducing the property tax raised annually for the technical colleges.
Note, though, that this return of a projected windfall budget surplus through that channel is a one-time deal. It is not a permanent change to the tax structure that supports the 16 the colleges.
Nor should it be.
Funding two of our major educational institutions, K-12 and the University of Wisconsin, has been stressful to say the least over the last decade. It will be a major issue in the campaign for governor this year.
The funding crunch stems from the fall-off in state tax revenues during the Great Recession and the grudging recovery. Further, Medicaid has chewed up much of the meager growth in the state’s sales and income taxes. That under-managed program is crowding out many other priorities, even though the feds pay 60% of the tab.