For most modern Democrats and Progressives, making a fiscally responsible effort to fund advanced educational public institutions is a tried and true staple for offering everyone a chance at the American dream. But I also totally understand local folks who might be unwilling to vote themselves a $4 million annual tax hike into perpetuity simply by request from administrators of Blackhawk technical college. Particularly if you're among those who are sick of the smoke and mirrors budgeting tricks state republicans and Gov. Walker have employed to divide and conquer constituencies.
If you consider yourself an informed Rock County voter, the information distributed by BTC officials promoting the tax hike referendum has to be among the most confusing, game-playing pieces of political propaganda seen in a long time.
Why I say political is because of the obvious effort made by everyone in this article, including the newspaper, to run cover for republican budget gimmicks and Walker approving state aid revenue in lieu of local property taxes earmarked for the technical college. This cynical ploy in turn means that tax payments going to the college to pay bills remain revenue neutral. This is a political agenda - not a budget agenda - as many would want us to believe.
Truth is, some local folks thought they understood the budget damage Walker and company have deliberately burdened tech colleges with, and may have been sympathetic to a perpetual annual tax hike. But I'm not so sure anymore considering a top BTC official failed to critique Walker's political agenda by stating, "I want people to understand that the referendum is not about repairing damage, it's about offering opportunities."
The school's effort to depoliticize their tax hike campaign is commendable on the surface, but it loses all credibility since the reason for the referendum in the first place is to overcome budget restraints imposed by the state legislature. This IS a political situation. Indeed.
Also, left out of the Gazette article and paper was an opposing viewpoint to the referendum or any discussion about a special state committee meeting to change, perhaps radically, control and funding of Wisconsin's tech colleges.
This is more than just a hypothetical situation here, folks. These committee meetings are being held with an interest in mind, not simply a review, intending to take control away from local boards and reassign property taxes.
Legislative Study Committee Excerpt:
The Special Committee is directed to review the current governance model of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) in the interest of transferring governance responsibilities of local district boards to the state WTCS Board and examine the current funding model for the WTCS with a preference toward reassigning current local property tax revenue to a broader state tax source.
We know that the radical right-wing interests calling the shots in Wisconsin, where every branch of government is under single-party rule, will end up accomplishing their preferences. Also, we have no idea or guarantee how an annual local tax hike would be handled under a different system. Republicans tend to think wage earning taxpayers never have enough "skin in the game." That backward mentality could be a clue.
Even if the special committee doesn't make a decision anytime soon, BTC officials insisted that the referendum is NOT about repairing damage. That's an eye opener. In other words, the sky will not fall. BTC will be there when you awaken the next morning. So will access and opportunity.
Earlier, I recommended voting "no" on the BTC tax hike referendum, citing political reasons. Now, I'm more certain than ever, given the additional information that voting "no" is the smart thing to do - for now.