As you know, our campus community, alumni, parents and the state as a whole have all been intensely engaged in discussions and debate about the state budget. I’m told that higher education in Wisconsin has never been “front page news” for a longer period. In my opinion, it’s usually a better day when the university isn’t on the front page. But we didn’t start this debate, it found us. And we need to keep talking about what UW-Madison does in this state and the importance of keeping this university and the UW System strong.
Today, I want to share an update on our progress and where this process goes next. While the proposed $300 million cut to the UW System is a tremendous challenge, thanks to your efforts, we believe we are having an impact on the budget debate.
I’ve met recently with several members of the legislature and there appears to be an understanding that this budget cut is very large and a genuine interest in seeking ways to reduce the size of the cut.
I want to thank legislators in both political parties for their openness to this discussion. We all recognize that the university must do its part to help during difficult fiscal times for the state, but no one wins if we disrupt the significant educational and economic benefits generated by the UW.
At this stage, nothing has been resolved, and it won’t be for quite a while. As I have told faculty, staff, and students here at UW, we are preparing for significant budget cuts. This is likely to require cuts and layoffs in many units across campus. These cuts will directly impact the experience of our students. In addition to on-campus cutting, we will also be asking the Regents for tuition increases for non-resident and professional students and for permission to increase our share of non-resident students.
Beginning in March, the budget will be discussed by the Joint Finance Committee, which is made up of legislators appointed by leaders of the Assembly and Senate. There will be opportunities to speak at hearings and input sessions before the budget is considered by both houses of the legislature.
Our work is not done— there is a long way to go before a final budget is adopted
in June. With the support of alumni, state residents and legislators, we can work to reduce these budget cuts. As I’ve told our campus community, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep up your efforts to advocate for UW-Madison and to share the ways in which UW makes a difference to this state.
Thank you to everyone who came to one of the forums this past week. Ongoing information about the budget, as we know more, will be posted at budget.wisc.edu. It is important that we work together and help direct the future of our institution.