February 04, 2015
MADISON, Wis. – Gov. Scott Walker proposed a massive and Draconian $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin system of colleges and universities in his budget address Feb. 3, posing another stumbling block for the state’s economy and for middle-class families.
The significance of this cut is hard to overstate in Wisconsin, which prides itself on building and maintaining an affordable, accessible and high-quality system of public higher education. Wisconsinites call this commitment The Wisconsin Idea, and it’s in jeopardy.
The proposed cut also would have disastrous impacts on Wisconsin’s economy, UW system students, and the local communities who support these institutions. The University of Wisconsin system is one of the largest economic drivers in the state, generating more than $15 billion to the Wisconsin economy annually while requiring a $1.2 billion investment from the state. This return on investment helps power economies around Wisconsin through 26 colleges and universities across the state and employs more than 39,000 staff.
Already university administrators are sounding the alarm. University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone blasted the plan in a campus wide address. “I can’t help but be angry,” he said. “I can’t help but be upset. I can’t help but really think about our mission and how we cannot continue in the same way with the same values.” Other school officials warn that the plan would, “likely lead to layoffs.”
A little covered piece of Walker’s legislation would “eliminate state laws governing the UW System,” according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Under the plan, the university system would be free to raise tuition at-will and without oversight starting in 2017. At a time when skyrocketing tuitions are leaving two-thirds of college graduates with student debt that now totals more than $1 trillion, the Walker plan is exactly what students don’t need.
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