“As the Governor and several state legislators have said, a budget is a statement of priorities. We appreciate the Governor’s acknowledgement that the university — and education in general — are a priority for this state. We must not only meet the immediate challenge of the deficit, but strengthen our ability to compete economically in the future.
“Governor McCallum has done his best, I believe, to protect the university from the harshest cuts and we appreciate that very much.
“He has proposed a strategy for closing the state budget gap and there are several other proposals on the table as well. We anticipate that there will some discussion and debate before final solutions are reached. The university wants to play a supportive and positive role in that process.
“For every dollar that the state invests in our campuses, it gets three dollars’ worth of programs and services and a quality education for more than 100,000 Wisconsin residents. We bring more than $700 million in federal money into the state annually and raise hundreds of millions more from private sources.
“We must not do anything to jeopardize our capacity to generate those returns for the state and for our campus communities.
“At the same time, this is a sizeable cut to our base and we will be faced with some tough choices. They come at the end of a decade in which we have already absorbed $55 million in state cuts so this won’t be an easy task. We aren’t prepared yet to say how we will meet the cuts but we must do so carefully.
“It would be helpful to us if final decision on the state budget come sooner rather than later as we are in the process of admitting students and hiring faculty for the fall semester.
“We have pledged to go forward with our work on state economic development and we will do what we can though some of the pieces may go more slowly. The legislature has strongly supported the work that our campuses are doing in this arena and we hope they will continue to do so.
“Our campuses are poised to invest in a substantial way in local and regional economic development. We are creating new programs, increasing capacity to train students in high demand areas, creating jobs and stimulating new partnerships.
“It seems to me that this is just what the state needs to get back on its feet and that is why the Governor’s proposal takes a somewhat smaller percentage cut from the university. We look forward to working with him and with state legislators as this process moves forward to preserve Wisconsin’s long-term economic base.”