Fox Valley Tech, lawmakers react to tuition freeze stripped from budget

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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - Governor Scott Walker hoped to freeze tuition for tech colleges and add $10 million to the two-year budget to offset the cost of the freeze.

But Thursday, the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee voted to remove the freeze while keeping half of the $10 million for grants.

"Trying to give the local technical colleges some flexibility to meet the needs of the students,” Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) said. “Then again we're going to try to provide needs-based grants for those that really need the help."

Fox Valley Tech was against the tuition freeze.

"One of the ways we can provide access is through student tuition,” Fox Valley Tech Vice President Dr. Christopher Matheny said. “So making sure those programs and services are available to students is an important part so a modest tuition increase every year is something that we've supported."

A motion by Democrats to add around $550 million to the budget to make technical college free was voted down by Republicans.

Republicans say the state can't afford it and tech college should be an individual investment.

Democrats say they're looking for accessibility that they believe will return investment.

"Do you think opportunity for Wisconsin, all Wisconsinites matters" asked Rep. Gordon Hiztz (D-Oshkosh) to his fellow Joint Finance Committee members.

Matheny says it's important to make the path easier for students to attend tech college, but it's important to balance local and state funding.

He believes the debate over adding more money to tech college is a good sign.

"Understanding that our community supports us enough to make additional investments in the technical colleges is a really strong signal that we've got our priorities in the right place," said Matheny.