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Proposal to Merge Colleges Getting Low Marks

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

The suggestion to combine Wisconsin's universities and technical schools to save money is not a new idea, but it is one that has been revived as legislators endeavor to solve the state's budget deficit.

"I think in the end it probably would not help," Dean Jim Veninga, the Campus Executive Officer at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County said. "State dollars going into our budget would have to be absorbed at the local level, so I would see the potential for a significant tax increase at the local level."

Not all educators agree, however. The president of Northcentral Technical College says he has seen systems where technical schools and state universities are combined into community colleges effectively. Robert Ernst says increasing efficiency would most likely lead to cost-savings.

"The argument is made that there's duplication of services, and there is," Robert Ernst said. "We have a library. The university has a library. We have a food service. They have a food service."

One challenge lawmakers would have to take on, however, is how to combine an educational system that is state-funded with one that is partly paid for by local taxpayers.