Not too long ago…at the 8 month or so point in his two year ‘balanced budget’…Governor Walker filled a projected budget deficit of $143 million by making additional cuts to state spending of $123 million dollars. The largest portion of these reductions were taken from the UW system, $46 million to be exact!
The latest cuts include $46 million for the UW System this year, with $6.2 million of that coming from UW-Milwaukee. The Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office says state universities will manage the cuts by using excess tuition money, not filling vacant positions and putting off starting some new initiatives or buying new equipment such as computers.
Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, said he believes the UW System will be able to weather the cuts.
“I think they will be able to do it in a way that doesn’t dramatically affect the university or dramatically affect the state. . . . Everyone – Democrat or Republican – would agree the budget must be balanced,” Vos said.
Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) said Republicans prioritized increased tax cuts at the price of state programs such as public universities that he argued boosted the state economy in the long run.
“The impact of these cuts is going to be devastating for students,” Jauch said.
Despite Rep. Vos’ assurances to the contrary, apparently making ends meet and providing the same level of educational opportunities isn’t so easy when you get a double whammy of cuts to state support of the university system (MJS May 2012):
The two-year state budget cut $250 million from the UW System, prompting cost-cutting measures at all campuses, including larger class sizes. Higher tuition helped offset less than a third of state funding cuts.
An additional $46 million was cut from the UW System this year because of a state budget shortfall. (emphasis mine)
But a task force advising the Legislature on flexibilities that could help make campuses more efficient wrestled with several key issues during an all-day hearing Wednesday in Madison, including the role tuition should play in supporting campuses and financial aid, and how the best and brightest faculty and administrators can be attracted and retained if salaries aren’t competitive.
“Tuition can’t simply keep raising the price (of an education),” said Dylan Jambrek, vice president of the United Council of UW Students and former president of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student government. “I would challenge the state to see whether they want to be in the education business anymore.”
As we’ve been told repeatedly ‘it’s critical that we don’t leave our children government debt’, it would be really nice if we left them a living breathing vital University of Wisconsin system. Or we could all be telling our children and grandchildren the same thing that Calvin is hearing: