Recent comments about the state budget by University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank are drawing criticism from two top Republicans in the Legislature.
Blank held a series of meetings last week on the Madison campus, where she criticized a proposed $300 million cuts to the UW System under Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal. Blank claimed the cuts, which include a roughly $120 million reduction over the next two years for the UW-Madison, would devastate the campus and force her to lay off employees. Blank said the cuts are “just too much.”
In exchange for the cuts, UW campuses would be given more autonomy to make their own decisions on a number of financial issues, including setting tuition.
In a statement released Wednesday, Joint Finance Committee co-chairs, state Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and state Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), criticized Blank for bringing “Washington politics” to Madison. They also pointed out that Blank’s predecessor, former Chancellor Biddy Martin, had backed a similar autonomy plan in the last state budget that could have cut $125 million from the university.
“Today’s budget proposal is similar to that of the 2011-13 budget with one major difference – the autonomy and prospective $300 million cut would be spread between campuses in the entire UW System. This may mean a lesser cut for the UW-System’s flagship campus and more autonomy than what was proposed in 2011,” Darling and Nygren said.
The lawmakers argue that decisions need to be made based on what’s best for Wisconsin students, and that “no constructive conversation will come from bringing Washington politics to Madison.”