MADISON, Wis. – University of Wisconsin System leaders today reacted to the release of Governor Jim Doyle’s recommended 2009-11 Capital Budget. University leaders praised the significant new investments in academic, research, and student facilities, and pledged to continue pursuing new ways to streamline the building process.
Overall, the plan calls for $194 million in state-supported bonding to renovate or construct 31 major projects throughout the UW System over the next two years. That state investment will be matched by $288 million in university-supported bonding, $234 million in private gifts, and $8.7 million in other university revenues.
The plan includes $83.2 million in state funding for new academic facilities at UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, and UW-Superior. Coupled with $73.2 million in state funding and $14 million in gift funds authorized in the 2007-09 Capital Budget, the total investment in the four universities will be $170.4 million.
“We’re eager to begin work on these much-needed academic facilities,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “This is a great investment in our short-term and long-term economic growth. Each of these landmark buildings will be ready for bid and groundbreaking this year – providing a strong boost for local jobs, just when Wisconsin needs it most. Later, when these facilities are populated with students and faculty, they will support economic growth in their regions for decades to come.”
Other items in the proposed budget include $4.5 million for a waste management instruction and research facility at UW-Stevens Point, $5 million for improving instructional technology in UW classrooms, and $54 million for utility projects at three campuses.
“Our strategic plan focuses on producing more college graduates for Wisconsin’s knowledge-based economy, and stimulating business and community growth through academic research and development. To make that plan a reality, we need to invest in the facilities that will nurture record numbers of UW students and support that expanded research capability,” said UW System Board of Regents President Mark J. Bradley.
“As evidenced by this week’s announcement regarding UW-Milwaukee’s long-term campus plans, Governor Doyle clearly understands the importance of our mission. He knows that the university is an engine for economic growth, and this capital plan will help fuel that engine,” added Bradley.
Doyle announced Monday that the Capital Budget would include $123.5 million in state funding and $116.5 million in university revenue and gifts over the next six years to invest in various high-priority building projects at UW-Milwaukee.
On the UW-Madison campus, the budget calls for $50 million to construct the Wisconsin Bioenergy Institute research facility, and $67 million to match gift funding for construction of the second phase of the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research in 2011.
“We all dream of a future where medical breakthroughs are more frequent and renewable energy sources are more abundant. These will be extraordinary places where UW scientists will work to make those dreams come true,” said Reilly.
The recommended Capital Budget calls for $200 million in state funding to be shared by all state agencies for critical infrastructure repairs and renovations, as well as capital equipment purchases at the UW Colleges, which are operated in partnership with local counties and cities.
“These are prudent investments in the core of our university system, enabling our campuses to better serve the entire State for decades to come,” said Reilly. “Where the proposed capital budget does not fund other academic and student facilities requested by the Board of Regents, we will work with our campuses to develop long-range plans that address their critical needs.”
The UW System will continue pressing for ways to streamline business practices and increase efficiency in the building processes. The Board of Regents this month endorsed three specific reforms for the Legislature to consider:
- Increase the statutory thresholds that trigger legislative approval for projects.
- Change the enumeration process, so that construction budgets rely less on preliminary cost estimates made before projects are designed.
- Allow the employment of modern construction management practices.
“We are not talking about radical changes that remove oversight. Rather, we’re talking about updating the existing process of authorizing and managing projects that has simply not kept pace with modern construction delivery methods,” said Bradley.