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More money targeted for workforce development, tech colleges

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans on the Legislature’s budget-writing committee planned Thursday to target more money for workforce development programs and Wisconsin’s technical colleges than Gov. Tony Evers initially proposed, after the Democratic governor called for increasing funding.

Evers said he wanted to spend $33 million out of $753 million announced on Wednesday for technical colleges and workforce development. Republicans who control the budget committee said they would approve on Thursday adding around $16 million in workforce development initiatives and $25 million for technical colleges. That is $7 million more than Evers proposed for technical colleges and about $1 million more for workforce development.

“We would have done this whether that new money came in yesterday or not,” said committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren, a Republican from Marinette.

Nygren said Assembly Republicans’ priorities for the $753 million surplus was cutting taxes, paying down debt and saving for an economic downturn. That differs from Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald who said he wanted to use some of the money to pay for roads and capital building projects.

Nygren said it was too early to say what tax cuts Republicans may get behind. Repealing the personal property tax, an issue that’s been discussed for years, has support from some Assembly Republicans, he said.

Evers used $56 million of the surplus to pay down state debt. He called for saving the rest, outside of the $33 million for technical colleges and workforce development. Democrats on the budget committee said they were on board with Evers’ plan.

Republicans planned to earmark $1 million more for programs at the state’s minimum and medium security prisons to help prisoners find work when they are released; $6 million for career and technical education incentive grants; $5 million for youth apprenticeship programs; and $3.6 million for the Fast Forward program that offers a variety of worker training initiatives.

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