“By requiring an additional $34 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System, the budget narrowly approved by the Wisconsin State Senate this morning will further harm the university’s ability to serve the best interests of Wisconsin students and the state.
“I am deeply disappointed that the Senate did not restore $13 million in funds for student financial aid, $11 million in funds for critically needed new faculty, or any of the $25 million in cuts taken from UW campus budgets beyond the Governor’s proposal. Instead, the Senate further reduced the UW System budget by $34 million. The process established to recover some of these additional funds does not work. Fall classes are set to begin in just two months. By withholding these funds, the Senate is interfering with our ability to efficiently and wisely plan for appropriate levels of enrollment, the number of classes, and the appropriate number of faculty needed to teach students this fall.
“I appreciate the leadership of Senators who recognize the role the university plays in economic development, and who therefore introduced a package of proposals to improve access to the university by restoring financial aid for needy students, to restore faculty positions, and to fund the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, which will advance scientific research and spin off new jobs.
“I also appreciate the strong bi-partisan vote (25-8) in opposition to an unfunded tuition cap, which would have reduced available classes for students, and faculty to teach students by another $49 million.
“A final disappointment is that our faculty and staff would be required to contribute 1.5 percent of their salary to retirement accounts. This comes at a time when the pay plan for highly sought-after faculty and staff is significantly behind our peers, and proposals call for a pay plan increase of just 2 percent, after two years of 0 and 1 percent, respectively. The action would effectively mean just a half-percent increase in compensation. This is no way to encourage our prized and committed staff to stay and continue to make their contributions in Wisconsin.
“I strongly urge the Assembly to resist these additional cuts to the UW System’s budget, and to restore funding for student financial aid, faculty positions, faculty and staff retirement, and support for our campuses.”