UW-Madison campus (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

UW-Madison campus (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Nearly half of Wisconsin’s 13 university campuses are located within U.S. Representative Ron Kind’s congressional district. The La Crosse Democrat is critical of deep funding cuts to the University of Wisconsin System, as proposed in the two-year state budget. He said he spends a lot of time on those four-year campuses. “I’m meeting with the students, the faculty, the professors, the chancellors … they’re already telling me, story after story, of the inability to recruit the talent on these campuses or hold on to them.”

The entire UW system is facing many changes, including tenure policies and more than $250 million in funding cuts in Wisconsin’s new budget.

AUDIO: (:47) When researchers leave the colleges, they take millions of federal research dollars with them, Kind said.

When researchers leave the colleges, Kind said, they take millions of federal research dollars with them. As a result, the entire UW System will suffer, including its reputation and educational opportunities for students. Kind is fed up with “deep draconian cuts.” He said, “It took many, many years to build up the reputation and the quality of our education system; it doesn’t take long to destroy it. That’s what this debate is about right now.”

Ultimately Wisconsin citizens make the final choice, Kind said, when they go to the voting booth.

The Universities of Wisconsin La Crosse, Eau Claire, Stevens Point, Platteville, River Falls, and Stout are located in the 3rd Congressional District. Two-year campuses in Marshield and Richland are also in that district, as well as 15 technical colleges.

Meanwhile, the 3rd district congressman has moved to protect and commemorate the “Wisconsin Idea.”

The Wisconsin Idea is the principle that the University of Wisconsin should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom. Kind has introduced a resolution to protect that idea. “The efforts earlier this year with the governor in his budget to roll that back right now I thought sent all the wrong messages and would lead us in a very bad place as a state.”

Back in February Governor Scott Walker attempted to change the century-old mission statement, but it has since been removed from his budget. Kind said if Wisconsin gets a reputation of de-valuing education, it will be tough to overcome, leaving the state less competitive for economic growth and job creation. “For many, many years in Wisconsin we’ve developed a very good reputation when it comes to the quality of higher education, of our education system generally, and now is not the time to go backward because it will be tough to recover from that.”

AUDIO: (:28) Though the Wisconsin Idea has not been changed, Kind argues his motion is not a moot point.

Though the Wisconsin Idea, ultimately, has not been changed, the La Crosse Democrat argued his motion is not a moot point. Kind said it’s important to have a greater discussion so this type of proposal does not come up again.

Kind introduced the resolution at the federal level, he says, because it’s a good idea nationwide. U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore have co-sponsored the resolution.

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