Walk-O-Meter

Freeze technical college tuition for two years

In his second term plan called Continuing Wisconsin’s Comeback, Governor Walker outlines his strategy to help people “Learn More to Earn More.” This includes an additional two-year tuition freeze for the UW System, as well as a two-year freeze for Wisconsin’s technical college system.


Sources:

Wisconsin’s Comeback Plan, Walker campaign, July 2014

Walker campaign press release, Oct. 20, 2014

Subjects: Education, Taxes

Updates

No freeze was included in final budget of the term

Gov. Scott 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.

Sources:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Budget panel drops Walker's Wisconsin tech school tuition freeze," May 18, 2017

Governor's office, "2017 Wisconsin Budget Address Higher Education Fact Sheet"

Email, Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau director Bob Lang, Nov. 28, 2017

 

Minimal changes removed in 2015-'17 budget, though Walker could return to promise in next budget

In addition to pledging to extend a tuition freeze for the University of Wisconsin System, Gov. Scott Walker campaigned in 2014 on a promise to institute a new freeze for tuition in the state's technical college system.

We've rated as Promise Kept the governor's pledge to extend his two-year UW System tuition freeze for two more years. That extension was part of the 2015-'17 state budget that Walker signed into law in July 2015.

But the pledge to freeze technical college tuition is another story.

In February 2015, we rated that promise as In the Works -- even though Walker had backed off what he promised on the campaign trail. His state budget proposal included what news reports described as a partial freeze -- a tuition freeze only for tech school courses and programs in high-need areas.  

But even the partial freeze didn't last. The leaders of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee removed it from the budget in April 2015, well before the budget was sent to the full Legislature and Walker's desk.

Walker still has time to try and keep this promise, but for now we rate it Stalled.

Sources:

Email interview, Gov. Scott Walker press secretary Laurel Patrick, July 16, 2015

Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health, Wisconsin State Budget Impact on Women and Girls

Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association, state budget update, June 2, 2015

A partial freeze was included in the budget. Will Legislature firm it up?

In campaign speeches, news releases and his 2014 campaign's "Wisconsin's Comeback" plan, Gov. Scott Walker promised a two-year freeze on tuition at the state's technical colleges.

Walker paired it with his plan to once again freeze tuition in the University of Wisconsin System schools for two years, all under the banner of helping more people afford higher education.

The tech-school freeze was promised without any qualifiers.

But in his budget proposal for 2015-17, Walker recommended a freeze -- but only for courses and programs in high-need areas. The state Department of Workforce Development will identify what those areas are for each tech school district.

It was described in news reports as a "partial" freeze.

Of course, Walker's proposal could be altered by the Legislature to be more in line with his promise. If not, it could well go down as a compromise or broken promise.

For now, we are rating it In the Works.

Sources:

Wisconsin's Comeback Plan, Scott Walker campaign, 2014

State budget documents for 2015-'17

Interview with Laurel Walker, Governor's press secretary, Feb. 9, 2015