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Bill Would Use Sales Tax, Not Property Tax To Fund Technical Colleges

 

State Assemblyman Garey Bies is pushing for a change in how the state's technical colleges are funded.

The Sister Bay Republican has introduced a bill in the Wisconsin Legislature that would take the technical colleges off the property tax rolls and instead fund them through a one-cent increase in the state sales tax.

Bies says in earlier days the technical colleges represented a very small slice of the property tax pie but that's not the case anymore.

Bies says under the current system taxpayers in places like Washington Island and Northern Door spend a disproportionate amount of tax money on technical colleges.

"This formula sort of fits a lot of rural areas where they have very small direct usage but yet they're supplying fairly large amounts of money to their area technical college," says Bies.

Karen Smits, vice president of advancement at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, says NWTC is against the proposal, which would change the structure of the Technical College System so it's similar to that of the University of Wisconsin College System. 

Smits says such a move would force them to relinquish local control of the school.

Smits says the change would mean local investments that taxpayers make would also be transferred to state control.

"We believe that we have made investments here in northeast Wisconsin that have been very thoughtful so that we are meeting the needs of our local workforce and certainly believe that local investment should be staying local," says Smits.   

Under the bill, any such move would need to get the approval of voters in a statewide referendum. 

Photo courtesy of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

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