Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed major cuts to the University of Wisconsin System over the next two years.
The cuts, which are part of the governor’s budget proposal, would take $300 million over two years, which would mean a 13 percent decrease in state funding for the university system. Walker said the proposal would, according to MSNBC, “give the university system more discretion over its finances.”
“Reforming the partnership between the state and the UW System will save money and allow the UW System the flexibility to better serve those seeking higher education,” Walker said in a statement released Tuesday. “The people of Wisconsin deserve a government that is more effective, more efficient, and more accountable, and this plan protects the taxpayers and allows for a stronger UW System in the future.”
Critics of Walker’s plan said that it would create tuition spikes for the middle class. “I don't trust the unelected Board of Regents to prioritize the plight of middle-class families,” Senate Universities Committee Vice Chairman Stephen Ness said.
The Associated Students of Madison, a University of Wisconsin student government organization, responded to Walker’s proposal and warned that tuition increases would be “inevitable.”
“UW System administration needs to assure students ... that the ... institutions will not increase tuition as a way to absorb these cuts on the backs of students after this budget,” Vice Chair Derek Field said.
University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross said that while the effects of the $300 million cuts would certainly be felt, it would give more autonomy to the Board of Regents – allowing the system to “operate more efficiently.”
“What is to everyone's advantage is for us to, as the governor has proposed, work hard on transforming our operations and costs,” Cross said.
Walker’s budget proposal will spend the next few months being revised before it moves forward for potential approval.