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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 24, 2024

Assembly approves tax-break bill for employees’ tuition

Tuition help is on the way for UW System students due to the passage of a proposal Thursday in the state Assembly.  




Assembly Bill 320 gives tax breaks to businesses that pay for their employees' post-secondary education.  




Rep. Rick Skindrud, R-Mt. Horeb, said the bill will provide businesses with an incentive to further the education of their workers. 




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'It was a bill that allowed employers to send [their employees] to college,' he said. 




The tax breaks provided to businesses are equal to half the cost of an employee's tuition. If the employee is below the federal poverty level the state will pick up 75 percent of his or her tuition bill. The loss of revenue will cost the state an estimated $11.9 million per year. 




Both the UW System administration and student body expressed support for the legislation. 




'The bill will create new educational opportunities for Wisconsin students,' UW System President Katharine Lyall said in a statement. 'This bill represents an effort to make higher education available to as many students as possible.' 




Associated Students of Madison Legislative Affairs Co-Chair, Anthony Sussman, said the bill will benefit the whole community. 




'I see this as a win-win situation,' he said. 'The student is gaining an education, while the employer is gaining a well-trained employee.' 




Despite strong bipartisan support for the bill, which passed on a 73-25 vote, Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, said the bill is nothing more than a Republican business incentive. 




'It is a massive corporate tax break that will do nothing for most students,' he said. 'The Republican priority is new tax breaks for corporations.' 




Sussman said he disagreed with Black and believes that all bills supporting the university should be passed. 




'It's a very good bill. I see this as benefiting students and giving them an opportunity for higher education,' he said. 'Anytime that there is a bill to increase funds for higher education I feel that it is necessary for state legislators to pass them.' 




Black attempted to amend AB320 Thursday to provide for a correlating increase in financial aid when the state increases UW System tuition. The amendment failed as Assembly members voted against it along party lines, 55 to 42. 




'We're going to make sure to keep fighting to make sure the university remains affordable,' Black said. 




Though Skindrud said the amendment had merits, he said he believes that students should have to pay for their education. 




'I don't think it's wrong for students to end up in some kind of debt,' he said.

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