Lawmakers Meet At UWS Over Proposed UW System Cuts
Bewley, Milroy Not Pleased With Walker's Proposal
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University of Wisconsin Superior supporters and even lawmakers are banding together to fight against a potential $300 million budget cut to the UW System.
Twenty-six University of Wisconsin campuses with 180,000 students are now fighting to keep Gov. Scott Walker from cutting millions from the state school system.
“It’s a sad day when the great state of Wisconsin loses prioritization for education,” said UWS Student Government Association President Mack Peters.
Monday evening, Senator Janet Bewley, Representative Nick Milroy, and UWS Chancellor Renee Wachter held an open forum on campus for concerned community members to share their ideas about the potential cuts.
With Governor Walker’s new proposal, university officials fear a few years down the road Superior’s campus will look a lot different.
“We felt pretty good going into this year,” said UWS Chancellor Renee Wachter. “Then to see the proposal, I think, has been tough for people to take.”
The UWS chancellor says a cut this big in funding would bring the university’s budget back to what is was in 1998.
In the past few months, UWS has struggled through a long program prioritization process to cut $2 million from its yearly budget.
Just when the chancellor says she feels comfortable, Governor Walker proposes an enormous cut to the entire system.
“The fact that the proposal coming out is yet another cut to the UW System on top of the last biennium’s cut, I think is extremely disheartening,” said Chancellor Wachter.
Anger and disappointment are words Senator Bewley and Representative Milroy heard over and over during Monday evening’s open forum about the proposed cuts.
“This is an important component for our community,” said Rep. Milroy. “We can’t continue to survive if we’re cut year after year.”
With the proposal, the chancellor expects about $2 million would have to be cut from the UWS campus, which means immediate cuts to programs and courses.
“A lot of students will not have an opportunity to graduate in four years,” said Rep. Milroy. “Which means they’ll have to pay more for their education.”
If the cuts come, lawmakers and campus officials believe students will be the ones taking the big hit, and in the end a diploma from the University of Wisconsin might become too expensive.
“We’re affordable right now and we have a great education at UWS,” said Peters. “I’d be ashamed to have to see them spike up costs just to pay the bills.”
Lawmakers say it’s up to them to listen to the personal impact stories, bring them back to Madison, and get to work on keeping cuts to the UW System at a minimum.
“There’s a lot of bad things in the budget,” said Rep. Milroy. “But this obviously was the worst thing in the budget.”
The assembly is expected to vote on the governor’s budget this summer.
Until then, lawmakers say there’s a lot of work to be done with the hope of changing Gov. Walker’s mind on the cuts.