Governor Scott Walker is in agreement with Republican legislative leaders, on where the budget focus should be, now that new projections show no real increase in state revenues. But he said he wants them to reconsider his plan to provide the University of Wisconsin System with greater autonomy.
“Our hope, as I’ve said for the past month or so, is that we can find other savings in the budget, working with the joint finance committee members and working with the legislature as a whole, to put into public education,” Walker said Wednesday in Milwaukee.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau said Wednesday that there is no need to adjust revenue estimates it released earlier this year, which projected tax revenue growth of 3.7 percent for 2013-14.
Republican legislative leaders said there focus in ongoing state budget negotiations will now be to find additional funding for K-12 education.
As for the $300 million in cuts to the UW System included in Walker’s proposed budget, all indications are that restoring any of that amount will take a backseat to K-12 funding.
“If we’re able to find additional savings, part of those could go to the university, part of those could go to other areas, but we don’t want anybody to walk away without thinking that our top priority without any question is K-12 education,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said.
Walker had proposed the major funding reduction in tandem with the establishment of a public authority for the UW System, which would provide for greater flexibility and less direct oversight of UW by legislators.
Joint Finance panel co-chairs, Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) said on Tuesday that they would delete that provision from the final budget.
“It’s an idea that potentially has some merit, but that needs a little more time to study it, to see what its true impacts would be,” Nygren said.
“We’ll see,” Walker said Wednesday. “My hope is, we’re going to go back to the legislature and made the case for the authority. They weren’t talking about easing up on the budget adjustment, they were talking about just purely taking away the authority, which I think would be the worst of all situations.”