University of Wisconsin budget cuts feared by Minnesota students
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Cutting millions of dollars from a university system budget is the greatest fear for many students and families. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a $300 million budget cut to the 13 four-year universities of the Wisconsin school system.
The cuts would total 13 percent over the next two years. If the bill were passed, students’ tuition would increase a tremendous amount and the quality of the University of Wisconsin system would slowly decrease.
Many Minnesota graduates attend the UW college and university school system. The implications of this funding change could dramatically domino into the Minnesota state higher education system.
Putting money into education will have a positive effect on the economics of each state. The Wisconsin state idea or mission statement said, “The boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state.” Taking away the budget for the U-W system will limit the boundaries of the education system.
“We are now facing a cut that will absolutely savage the infrastructure and quality of teaching and research to this university,” said John Sharpless, a Republican history professor at UW-Madison, stated according to the New York Times. “What would be a shame for us in Wisconsin is if Scott leaves a wake of damage here on his way to the presidency.”
On Feb. 7, Walker posted on Facebook, “Our budget changes are only 2.5 percent of the total UW system operating budget.” However, according to politifact.com, the cuts amount to a 13 percent reduction in state aid for the UW system. There is a possibility of a raise in tuition and class size increase.
Senior Madi Mckenzie said, “I am attending University of Wisconsin-River Falls and I worry for my future. I have a hard time as it is paying for college and I could not imagine the cost going up. This bill is not necessary and will do nothing but hurt the students budget.”
As governor, Walker should invest in education; he attended University of Marquette, but voluntarily withdrew from the university and did not receive a degree. This brings up the question about how his own collegiate history may impact current decisions.
Meanwhile, Walker proposed setting aside $220 million from the state’s general fund to a new arena. The arena for the NBA Milwaukee Buck’s would be around $500 million and funded by private and public financing.
According to ESPN, Walker said, “We are having them pay their own way. It is not coming out of revenues from anywhere else. It’s not coming from new taxes. It is keeping the foundation we have today.”
If that is true that the arena is not funded with tax dollars, then citizens should be asking why he is not setting aside more money for higher education.
On the plus side, according to the Journal Sentinel, there would be another two-year tuition freeze for current students of the UW system. Students will then have time to switch schools if necessary. In the long run, this decision will not have an immediate impact on current students, and future students will have time to make informed decisions.
The UW system and state residents need to take a stand against Walker’s proposed bill. All stakeholders, including students, parents, professors and local businesses, need to stand united to show Walker the long-term value and investment of a college degree at an affordable cost for Wisconsin residents. If nothing is done to change the direction of decreased state funding, the UW system will cost more and the quality will decrease.