The Walk-O-Meter: Rating 2 Scott Walker promises on higher education

This welder participated in an apprenticeship program at Waukesha County Technical College in suburban Milwaukee. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
This welder participated in an apprenticeship program at Waukesha County Technical College in suburban Milwaukee. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

With Gov. Scott Walker having completed his final two-year state budget before his second term ends, we’re reviewing promises he made during the 2014 campaign.

 

Walker has announced he will run for a third term in 2018. So far, seven major Democrats have announced their campaigns. (See their Truth-O-Meter records here.)

Here are two of Walker’s campaign promises that haven’t yet received final ratings on our Walk-O-Meter. Both deal with higher education.

The governor’s office did not reply to our requests for information on either promise.

1. Freeze technical college tuition for two years

Walker campaigned in 2014 on a promise to freeze tuition at University of Wisconsin System campuses for at least two more years. We rated that Promise Kept.

But he also pledged to institute a new freeze for tuition in the state's technical college system, which serves more than 326,000 students. The per-credit cost for the 2016-’17 school year ranges from $130 to $176 for Wisconsin residents.

In July 2015, we rated the promise Stalled.

In his 2017-’19 state budget, Walker proposed a freeze on technical college tuition, but that died in May 2017. The Legislature’s budget committee voted 12-4 -- with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats against -- to drop the proposal.

"We already believe it is a pretty good bargain," state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, the co-chairman of the committee, said at the time.

Democrats disagreed, arguing technical colleges should be made tuition free, at a cost of $555 million to taxpayers over two years. That effort failed 4-12 on party lines.

For a pledge to freeze technical college tuition that never became law, we rate Promise Broken.

2. Increase availability of tuition tax credits for certain students

Walker pledged to commit to "growing those eligible for and benefitting from the tuition tax deduction so students who stay and work in Wisconsin gain assistance paying for college."

In January 2016, we rated the promise Stalled. At the time, the governor’s office didn’t cite any particular progress, but said Walker would be making proposals "to address student loan debt and other higher education initiatives."

The nonpartisan state Legislative Fiscal Bureau told us there have been no actions to make more people eligible for a tuition tax deduction since Walker started his second term in January 2015.

Since the 2017-19 budget is in place, we rate this pledge Promise Broken.

We’re issuing these ratings based on the fact that the state’s 2017-’19 biennial budget is already in place. If separate legislation is approved before Walker’s second term ends in January 2019, we would review these ratings.

 
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