Governor Scott Walker has backed off from a budget proposal to replace the University of Wisconsin System’s 110-year-old public service mission with one that is aimed at meeting the state’s workforce needs.
The changes included in Walker’s proposed biennial budget would have removed language – known as “the Wisconsin Idea” – that requires the UW “to extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses.” It also would have added to the opening line, on the mission of the UW System, “to meet the state’s workforce needs.”
The governor’s office said late Wednesday that the proposals inclusion was a “drafting error” and would not be in the final version of the budget. In a message posted on Twitter, Walker’s office said “The Wisconsin Idea will continue to thrive. The final version of budget will fix drafting error – Mission statement will include WI Idea.”
The reversal came just hours after Walker defended the language during a stop in De Pere, with no mention of the drafting error. “Learning’s important, but ultimately it’s most important for people to get the chance to get the education that they need to succeed in the workforce and in life,” Walker said.
UPDATE: Governor Scott Walker released a statement on Thursday further clarifying how the language ended up in his budget plan.