December 21, 2014

UW Board approves $95 million request

UW System President Raymond Cross

UW System President Raymond Cross

University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approves a request for an additional $95 million in the next two-year state budget. 

The Regents unanimously approve the funding request even though Governor Scott Walker had warned all state agencies against asking for any more tax dollars in the 2015-2017 state budget.

In defense of their $95 million request, UW System President Ray Cross says the growth of Wisconsin’s economy is on the university’s shoulders. “I think it’s important that we make our case. This economy cannot grow any faster — any faster — without more talent. It just cannot grow.”

Meeting at the Oshkosh campus, Cross says we have a talent gap and it’s holding back our economy. He says tax dollars are needed to help pay for the school’s new Talent Development Initiative, to broaden the nature and readiness of Wisconsin’s talent base.

AUDIORay Cross says the vision for the future of the UW System should “challenge us to think big” and might even “scare us.” 1:12

The creation of jobs, Cross says, is perhaps the greatest challenge facing Wisconsin. “Just creating jobs is not enough. We need to create high-impact jobs, jobs that increase personal growth, quality of life, and social and economic opportunity. But perhaps most importantly … jobs that create other jobs.”

The UW also needs to boost the numbers of graduates while reducing the time to receive a degree, officials say, and the 26 campuses need to preserve academic quality in the face of another tuition freeze. 

Cross is confident with his request, saying UW officials have been meeting regularly with legislators and the governor’s office. State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) is chairman of the Assembly higher education committee. Based on those discussions he generally supports the request for more money, according to Mike Mikalsen, research assistant and policy advisor with Nass’ office.

Governor Walker says it’s too soon to say whether the request is something he’d support. “I gotta get through an election before I even get a chance to present another budget. The only promises that I’ve made about the University of Wisconsin System is that I will continue the freeze on tuition.”

AUDIO: Walker expresses the importance of the tuition freeze. :11

Regents say at some point, they’ll need to have a discussion about raising out-of-state tuition.