MADISON — University of Wisconsin System leaders today praised the Wisconsin State Senate for its passage of a state budget that includes major investments that will enable more students to enroll in high tech, high demand fields.
“Wisconsin’s economy is at a critical juncture,” noted Jay L. Smith, president of the UW System Board of Regents. “The Senate budget action allows us to keep our flagship campuses – UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee – competitive and to make key investments throughout the UW System that will pay great dividends for the state’s regional economies.”
In action early Wednesday, the Senate restored more than $60 million in funding to the Regent’s 2001-03 budget request, and restored $40 million in facility maintenance funds that had been cut by the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. The budget next moves to the Assembly, where further modifications are expected before the bill goes to a conference committee and then on to the governor for final action.
“We are very grateful to those senators who recognized that increased funding for higher education — and for the 155,000 students we serve — is the wisest long-term investment the state can make,” said UW System President Katharine Lyall. “We also appreciate the action taken by the Senate to increase financial aid and help keep a university education affordable.”
“We are at step three in a six-step process,” added Lyall, “but we believe the Senate has created the right platform for the state’s economic future. We are urging their Assembly colleagues to follow suit.”
The UW System’s budget proposal would permit an enrollment increase of more than 2,600 students. This would substantially increase the number of college graduates coming into Wisconsin’s workforce. The proposal is aimed squarely at increasing Wisconsin’s per capita income, which now lags $1,300 below the national average.
“We have had very strong support for the UW System from the business community statewide,” said Smith. “They recognize that we need to achieve sustained economic growth and we can’t accomplish that through tax cuts alone. If Wisconsin wants to participate in the technology-driven economy of the future, the state must invest in its workforce today.”
Senate Budget Roll Call Vote (18-13)