Additional Autonomy for the Board of Regents/ Broad Sweeping Public Authority
The Governor has proposed handing over control of the UW System to a “public authority,” controlled by an unelected, unaccountable Board of Regents, leaving citizens out in the cold if they need help from legislators with the university.
- Wisconsin residents will face higher costs and fewer choices as legislative oversight on spending and tuition increases is eliminated.
- Wisconsin could become the first major university system in the country without a strong guarantee of tenure and shared governance, making it impossible to attract, recruit, and retain the world’s best & brightest scholars to serve as faculty and researchers.
- Outsourcing the University of Wisconsin to a privatized, unaccountable board goes against longstanding state law, and the widely accepted mission of the University.
Legislators should reject the “public authority.”
Proposed Budget Cuts
The University of Wisconsin System has enjoyed broad, bipartisan support for more than 100 years. It provides an accessible, affordable, world-class education for Wisconsin residents.
The legislature is now considering a budget that proposes a $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin system over the next two years. This cut amounts to almost 13% of state funding, the largest cut in its history.
Students will face the brunt of the budget cuts. Students will see fewer class choices, larger class sizes, and steep increases in tuition. It will take longer for many students to graduate, and many will see their majors eliminated.
- The so-called tuition freeze will be meaningless for students who need to attend one or two semesters longer, paying tuition, room & board, in order to graduate.
- The UW System is the strongest engine of economic growth in the state. UW-Madison alone generates $12.4 billion in economic activity, $614 million in state tax revenue, and supports 128,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Many local communities also depend on a UW four-year University, two-year College, or county Extension for good-paying, middle-class jobs and economic growth.
- More than 800,000 Wisconsin residents face the challenge of student loan debt. Severe budget cuts and less legislative oversight will make the problem of growing debt worse, resulting in more students who graduate with fewer options and crushing debt.
- Wisconsin students will be sent to the back of the admissions line, as UW schools will be forced to take more out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition, to try and make up for budget cuts.
Legislators should reject the cuts and restore funding to the UW System.
Proposed changes to the Wisconsin Idea and other education cuts
The Wisconsin Idea, wherein the university works to improve life and community for all citizens of Wisconsin, is worth fighting for. Public education for K-12 students, for technical colleges, as well as for the UW System, must continue to be fully funded to ensure all Wisconsin residents can gain access to a high-quality education.
While the Governor has walked back the proposal to change the language of The Wisconsin Idea, whatever the words on the page, the proposed devastating, unnecessary, and shortsighted budget cuts make The Wisconsin Idea a meaningless promise. Only by investing in education can we ensure the type of education system that meets Wisconsin citizens’ expectations.
Legislators should restore the language about the UW mission, reject cuts to public education, and identify solutions like rejecting the tiny per-household property tax cut, accept federal Medicaid expansion, and reduce spending on new highway construction in order to restore funding to the UW System.