Lasee's Notes
 May 18, 2017

Lasee's Notes is a way for me to communicate directly with you on key issues of our day
and to champion limited government, lower taxes, and individual liberty.
How we respond to these issues today, will affect the direction of our state and nation tomorrow.

I look forward to hearing from you about the issues of concern to you. Please feel free to contact me, or (608) 266-3512. If you are planning to be in Madison, please visit, I look forward to seeing you at the Capitol.

Pomp and Circumstance 2017

Now that Mother’s Day is over, it’s high school graduation season!  You can hardly drive down the road without seeing a car window reading “Class of 2017” – fantastic!  Graduating from high school is something every kid and their parents should be proud of; graduation marks the end of a 13 year journey starting in kindergarten (now, some start in pre-K or 4K).  When all is said and done, a K-12 journey takes about 2,340 school days and $169,403 per student (calculation based on the 2014-15 statewide average per pupil rate of $13,031).  The Class of 2016 saw 57,258 high school students graduate – what awaited them in the next phase of their lives?

For just over half of them, 29,770, a four-year college with 21,446 choosing to attend a University of Wisconsin System (UWS) school.  With costs between $3,700 and $5,210 a semester, a student who finishes their undergraduate degree in four years will pay somewhere between $29,600 and $41,680.  While a four year degree can be the most costly option for new high school graduates, in many cases this is good investment in a student’s future.  Winter Commencement 2014 and Spring Commencement 2015 saw 27,427 students graduate with a four year undergraduate degree from a UW System school.  Career placement after graduating from a four-year University of Wisconsin System school varies from campus to campus and from major to major.

Almost a quarter (21%) of the Class of 2016 chose to go to a technical/vocational school. It’s a solid choice as the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) has employment rates for their graduates at 86% or higher for the past 15 years. Additionally, in-state tuition at a WTCS school varies between $131 and $177 per credit (about $2,310 per semester). 

Many people who choose to at attend a Wisconsin technical college have actually already received a degree or taken classes at a four year college.  In fact, 2014-2015 figures show 42,565 WTCS students have taken some college courses, 17,518 students have earned a bachelor’s degree, and an additional 8,026 students have more than a bachelor’s degree.  On the flip side of the coin, 3,787 students transferred to a University of Wisconsin System school from a WTCS school.

Let’s take a moment and talk about Wisconsinites commitment to a strong K-12 system, University of Wisconsin System, and Wisconsin Technical College System.  In the 2015-17 state budget, 36.7% of the total $73.3 billion two-year budget went to fund these three systems.  Current funding levels are $1.1 billion for the WTCS, $11.9 billion for the UWS, and $13.3 billion for K-12, each system saw increases over previous funding levels.

In Governor Walker’s 2017-19 budget currently before the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), each area of state funded education sees an even bigger two-year budget.  The proposed 2017-19 budget increases funding for the WTCS by $7.7 million, UWS by $237 million, and K-12 by $648.2 million.

Getting back to our 2016 graduates, six percent decided to go straight into the workforce.  With Wisconsin’s current unemployment rate at 3.4%, 1.2% below the national average of 4.5%, they likely found very receptive employers.  Current “hot jobs” in Wisconsin include installation, maintenance and repair, transportation and material moving, sales and many others.

The military was the destination for 3% of the Class of 2016. These students have signed up to serve their country and keep America safe by enlisting in United States Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.  God bless each and every one of these students for their commitment and service.

An additional 1.4% of the graduates listed job training as their future plans.  These students intended to complete a job training program, such as a youth apprenticeship or registered apprenticeship, and began while in high school to prepare them for a job in a specialized field.

Fast-forward a year and the Class of 2017 is on the cusp of making those same important decisions. Most of this Class of 2017 was born in 1999.  Reflect on that for a moment; this class will be the last class born in the 20th century – I feel old!  They never experienced MC Hammer pants, cell phones as big as bags, or shag carpeting.  They never lived in a world where  “Jump Around” wasn't played during Badger Football games, where you couldn’t Google something to find out more information, and they've only seen the Packers experience two losing seasons in their whole lives.

As we attend graduation parties for the members of the Class of 2017, remember that they have a lot of major decisions ahead of them, yet there’s no better place to make those decisions than in Wisconsin! 

Wisconsin is going to need them in our workforce sooner rather than later. We have to find more ways to match our young people with training and education in careers available in their field of study. We still have too many that go on to education only to drop out or dramatically change their path. Tools to help them make this important life decision need to be developed. We have too many that take too long to figure it out or study in majors that don’t prepare them for a particular career. This is costly to the young person, their family, and there is a taxpayer cost for our higher education systems, not to mention lost productivity.


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State Capitol Room 316S- PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-3512