UW System Faces Additional $66 Million Cut

UW System, already facing a $250 million cut over the next biennium, learned that it will likely have to absorb up to almost $66 million more in cuts in 2011-13. UW-Madison’s share of the cut would be $18.1 million in FY 2012 and $7.7 million in FY 2013, resulting in a $25.8 million cut over two years.

The proposed cuts were presented in a memo to state agency heads by the Department of Administration last Friday. Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch notes that “national and global economies are still recovering from one of the worst recessions in 70 years,” and he is “requesting that all agencies plan for a larger lapse in the event the revenues are not as strong as assumed in the budget.” These cuts must first be approved by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee before they can be implemented.

Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell told The Capital Times that language in the state budget allows for the implementation of lapses, and he was waiting for state revenue estimates to be announced prior to a lapse announcement. He said that “(w)hen the state budget passed, one of the positives was that we all perceived it to be in balance. So clearly the economy must be turning down; that would have to be the assumption.”

While lapses like this are common, UW System, which makes up 7 percent of state expenditures, has not normally been given such a large percentage of the cut, 38 percent of the total in this instance. In fact, UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Department of Corrections was given only a $13.4 million budget cut under the best case scenario, one-fifth the proposed cut to UW System.

In response to the announcement, Democratic members of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities sent a letter to committee chairman Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) requesting a hearing on the matter. “Of particular concern, first and foremost, is that Governor Walker’s administration is asking the UW System to bear more than its fair share of this lapse, which could ultimately impact student access to a quality public higher education in Wisconsin,” the legislators wrote. Nass spokesman Mike Mikalsen said that a hearing would not be scheduled.

More information about these cuts will be posted as it becomes available.