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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, June 13, 2024

MATC overhaul worth tax increase

This Nov. 2, the residents of Wisconsin will decide the fate of a number of closely fought elections. While each candidate brings different ideological perspectives and ideas to the table, their ability to succeed in office is far from guaranteed. Unlike the unpredictable nature of elected office, one particular measure, the $134 million proposed expansion of Madison Area Technical Colleges, offers a guaranteed method of utilizing tax dollars to increase opportunities for education in Wisconsin while creating local jobs.

In light of the economic downturn and increased numbers of high school students pursuing higher education, MATC has experienced drastic increases in enrollment. Not helping their situation is a UW System becoming more selective and expensive, especially here at UW-Madison. The referendum would greatly relieve the MATC campuses of overcrowding and provide much-needed renovation and expansion.

The proposed projects include a $43 million Health Service Education Center and Clinic, $21.7 million for Law Enforcement and Fire Department training, $7.3 million for regional campus renovations, $16.8 million for a ""green"" services center at MATC's Traux campus, $34.2 million for Madison campus renovations and an additional $10.7 million for land acquisitions and utility improvements.

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To pay for the referendum, MATC is asking taxpayers to foot the bill. Unlike most financial proposals, however, the cost of the center would be spread among 12 different counties over 20 years. The initial 10 years would feature an extra $33.10 tax per household on average, bringing the total average MATC tax to $412 per year.

While a tax increase of any kind sounds unwise in our current economic conditions, the $33.10 extra per year is a small price to pay for such crucial renovations and expansions. MATC provides an opportunity for those unable to afford or gain admission to the UW System to start their path toward higher education. The economic conditions that might stop the referendum's approval are in fact the very reasons it should pass. With job opportunities at a low because of the recession, more and more Wisconsin students are seeking MATC enrollment. Furthermore, the specialty training offered in law enforcement, medicine and fire fighting create much-needed local jobs likely to stay in Wisconsin.

Threatening the referendum's passage is a mid-term election expected to favor Republicans in light of lessened popularity for Democratic policies. The many Republican challengers will bring with them a higher Republican turnout that is less likely to vote for a tax increase of any kind.

Although Wisconsin's economic conditions make a tax increase difficult, voters should remember the important role the MATC system plays in our local community. In light of overcrowding and a lack of facilities, our local technical colleges need financial support in order to improve and expand their facilities, which in turn creates an academic environment more conducive to success.

The careers created by MATC remain local and provide a much-needed opportunity for employment in an economy where jobs are hard to find. This referendum represents an opportunity to invest directly into our community, and at only $33.10 extra per household, it is an investment worth making.

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