Walker: Tuition Freeze & Lapse Reinstatement for UW System

Governor Scott Walker announced his revised budget recommendation for UW System yesterday in a letter to the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee. The letter, from Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, does not mince words:

“. . . UW System asserted that the results of the 2011-13 reductions would be increased time to degree, reduced student services and loss of economic development opportunities. However, considering the findings of the April 19 memorandum, these assertions now simply appear inaccurate and untruthful, and that UW System was more interested in protecting its bank account than ensuring a quality higher education. The Walker Administration is saddened that UW System did not show leadership during a fiscal crisis, and instead made the burden of a public higher education heavier while stockpiling cash.”

Walker now recommends a two-year tuition freeze for all UW System campuses, a net $42 million cut to UW System. The governor also decided to no longer exempt UW System from permanent lapse cuts, a reduction of $65.7 million over the biennium.

Finally, the governor is directing UW System to fund several economic development and job creation efforts through its program revenue block grant, rather than with new money as originally proposed. UW-Madison will need to allocate $3.75 million for the Carbone Cancer Center and $3 million for the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine program.

The Joint Finance Committee has not announced when they will meet to discuss the revised recommendations, but action is expected by the end of May. The committee may vote to make deeper cuts to the governor’s original budget proposal or remove management flexibilities that were given as part of the 2011-13 biennial budget.