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Republicans offer scaling back UW cut by $50 million

UPDATE:

Friday night the Joint Committee on Finance voted 12-4 to approve the $250 million cut, and surrounding plan. The plan will move on to the Assembly and Senate once the committee finishes the full budget.

After the vote, UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank issued the following statement:

“The Joint Committee on Finance was presented with a very difficult budget. We appreciate the members' willingness to work with us to make the proposed cuts less challenging for the university.

“We are grateful that the committee was able to reduce the cut by $50 million and provide funding to cover increased fringe benefit costs.

“The steps toward flexibilities in procurement and building projects proposed by the committee are welcome and should allow us to function more efficiently.

“We also appreciate that committee members agreed to provide bonding for a much-needed addition to and renovation of our Chemistry Building, which will allow us to better meet the rising demand of students majoring in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines.

“We are heartened to see today's statement of President Cross and Regents Vice President Millner expressing a continuing commitment to shared governance and tenure.

\"As we have stated in the past, these principles are deeply valued by UW-Madison and we are glad to see the tenets of those principles will be upheld.

“We expected and have been planning for a difficult budget over the next two years, and have already implemented some measures to help ease the burden of the budget cut.

“Our number one goal is to continue to give our students the highest quality education possible, and we remain committed to working with the governor and legislators to make the case for renewed investment in higher education in Wisconsin.”

Earlier in the night, UW System President Ray Cross, and Board of Regents Vice President Regina Millner issued the following statement on proposed tenure and shared governance changes:

“When the Governor released his budget in January, the leadership of UW System and the Board of Regents spoke with one voice and immediately expressed our commitment to uphold the tenets of shared governance and tenure. Whether these important policies continued in statute or Board policy, we vowed they would live on.

“We remain as committed to these principles now as we were five months ago. We appreciate that the action proposed today by the Joint Finance Committee keeps shared governance language in state statute, and we are reviewing other proposed changes related to shared governance. As tenure was not retained in statute, we will move to incorporate it into Board policies immediately. The Board meets next week. A UW System tenure task force, previously charged with reviewing the tenure issue, will continue its work.

“Our review of all of the Joint Finance Committee's proposed changes continues. Overall, we are pleased with the substantial reduction of our budget cut and the provision of additional flexibilities, and we are confident our new partnership with the legislature is focused on the future.”

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Legislative Republicans are offering a plan to scale back on the cuts to the University of Wisconsin System. Friday they revealed instead of a $300 million cut, a $250 million cut is more likely.

\"We're not happy with the cuts either. Our university system is really important to us.\" said Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Falls), a key Republican on the state's budget writing committee.

While not happy about offering a funding cut to UW System, Republicans say they did it in the most responsible way possible.

Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), another key Republican on the committee, said, \"To make sure the classes are available, to make sure the resources are available for students to graduate in four years.\"

Milwaukee Senator Lena Taylor (D) said, “There's nothing responsible about not investing in our people.\"

The proposal offers sweeping changes, that includes tenure designation. Tenure means an employee can only be fired for just cause and after a hearing. This proposal takes out a requirement to offer employees tenure.

\"The most appropriate place for it to be determined is by the Board of Regents rather than by the Legislature.\" Nygren said.

In-state tuition would also be frozen for the next two school years. the only exception in a provision for the UW-Sevens Point campus.

UW System President Ray Cross issued a statement Friday afternoon, “Today's proposed action by the Joint Finance Committee represents a significant reduction in the cut to the UW System. I want to express my gratitude to these legislators as well as the others who have worked to reduce the cut and provide the System with needed flexibilities.\"

Cross' statement continued, “I know this has been a difficult budget with many tough decisions. The work of the committee illustrates a willingness to open a new dialogue and partnership between the legislature and the UW System. I am committed to working to build on this foundation to ensure a strong UW System for the future that continues our long tradition of serving students, communities and the state.”

Part of the flexibility includes a change that offers chancellors more direct control over the way their campus runs. That's a move Taylor says removes the voice of faculty, staff, and students.

\"We are completely unwilling to move to where the GOP is on shared governance. Too many changes, too broad changes, without clear detail.\" she said.


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