Scott Walker proposes greater autonomy for University of Wisconsin System

Updated: January 29, 2015
Scott Walker proposes greater autonomy for University of Wisconsin System

Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to cut the University of Wisconsin System by $300 million over two years would likely lead to layoffs, but closing campuses is not on the table at this time, top school officials said Tuesday.

System leaders issued statements Tuesday saying the proposal would give them more flexibility and opportunities. A system spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on Nass’ stance.

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) issued the following statement on this issue:

“Budgets are about priorities and once again dramatically slashing higher education in the 21st Century global economy will drastically take Wisconsin in the wrong direction. Under Governor Walker’s proposal, Wisconsin’s world-class higher education system will feel the immense pain of Republicans’ fiscal mismanagement. There is no doubt that the UW System’s ability to offer high-quality, affordable education will suffer.”

Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) issued this statement:

“I am still reviewing the governor’s proposal. As a former regent, I have concerns about a cut of this magnitude without granting flexibilities to the UW System. It appears that a significant amount of flexibility would be necessary in order to manage such a large decrease off the base budget.

This is a decision that’s not to be taken lightly. Legislators will need to determine the best way to give greater freedom to the UW System knowing the state will continue to give the system hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer support.

While I haven’t discussed the issue with my colleagues in my caucus, we’ll keep an open mind as we go through the budget process.”

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Richard Telfer issued this statement to the campus community:

Dear Campus Community,

You may be aware of this morning’s news reports regarding Gov. Walker’s proposed $300 million budget cut for the UW System along with a proposal of making the UW System a public authority, which would allow for greater flexibility in the future.

This news is likely unsettling, but I ask that you be patient. Currently, there are more questions than there are answers about what all this means for the UW System and specifically, UW-Whitewater. We will know more on Tuesday, Feb. 3, when Gov. Walker delivers his biennial budget address. I believe it is safe to say that we will face significant budget cuts under the governor’s proposal as it currently stands. President Cross has stated that he hopes to reduce the amount of those cuts as the budget makes its way through the legislative process. But the reality of the state’s current fiscal situation is that UW-Whitewater, along with all state agencies, will face significant budget cuts in the next two years.

Together, we have weathered budget cuts in the past. My staff has begun to develop priorities for the campus. Once we have specific amounts regarding our campus reductions, I will work closely with the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee and campus governance groups to determine how we move forward. I know this news seems dismal, but again, I would ask you to remain patient. I have scheduled a budget open forum from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, in the Summers Auditorium in the University Center. Additional sessions will be scheduled as we receive more information. I will share as much information with campus as possible.

Richard Telfer

UW-Milwaukee’s Student Association has issued this statement:

“Governor Walker’s proposed cut to the UW System is frightening. We don’t deny that students deserve a break and we need to keep College affordable, but a tuition freeze will only be effective if it’s accompanied by an increase in state funding. Otherwise, we are simply telling students, ‘You can’t have what you need to be successful’. A cut from state funding coupled with a tuition freeze will only leave our students with an embarrassingly sub-standard educational experience. To move Wisconsin forward, we need to invest in higher education and the future success of our generation.

The Student Association is committed to ensuring that students are involved in the discussions that will take place in the coming weeks. We have secured membership onthe Chancellor’s Budget Reduction Task Force to be certain that any decisions made by UWM in response to the proposals reflect the best interests of its students.”

Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) issued this statement:

“Once again, Gov. Walker is pursuing a divisive agenda instead of looking for ways to work collaboratively to create jobs and strengthen Wisconsin’s middle-class families. His plan to slash funding for the UW System will put our students at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy, and make it harder for our UW schools to recruit and retain faculty.

Our university system is a tremendous source of pride for Wisconsin, and a key economic engine for the entire state. Investments in higher education pay off down the road, so this short-sighted, politically motivated move by Gov. Walker will be harmful to Wisconsin for years to come.

Western and central Wisconsin is home to many UW schools and these cuts will have a dramatic impact on both students and faculty, who will be left wondering why the Governor put his political ambitions ahead of the needs of our state.”