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Chancellor John D. Wiley’s statement on proposed Assembly budget

July 10, 2007

Here is University of Wisconsin–Madison Chancellor John D. Wiley‘s statement on the budget proposed by Republicans in the state Assembly:

"Wisconsin’s economy, its families and its future are being sold out by Assembly Republicans, whose budget is an assault on higher education.

"For the last several budgets, we’ve been told to absorb cuts and ‘wait until the next budget’ for critically needed investments. Assembly Republicans want us to continue waiting as Wisconsin slips into a ruinous pattern of disinvestment that has gutted higher education in other states. This is simply wrong.

"A university diploma is increasingly important and Wisconsin citizens want a better educational future than the one that this budget offers.

"Someone must have the courage to stop this trend. The Assembly budget stymies the much-needed support offered by Gov. Doyle and the state Senate.

"We want the university to continue as an economic engine for the state, as well as a key contributor to teaching and research, agriculture, health care and quality of life.

"Instead, the Assembly budget dismantles it to satisfy party politics and eliminate personal pet peeves. It micromanages and seeks to dictate, to the letter, which academic programs can continue, which administrative positions can exist, whether students can live on campus and whether students can remodel their student unions using student dollars.

"What’s at stake for UW–Madison is the lifeblood of our institution: its people. Faculty and staff are leaving in record numbers. Offers from other institutions often dwarf anything we can offer in return, not only in salary but in sustainable support for what a university exists to do. The standard of excellence in many fields here is second to none, but it is eroding. If it is lost, it will not be recaptured for a long time, if ever.

"The budget proposal does include funding to help retain high-demand faculty, although with significant reductions from what is critically needed. Still, this represents one positive step toward dealing with the hugely competitive market for key faculty. The proposal leaves out domestic partner health benefits, however, which remain equally necessary to our retention efforts. Even where faltering support is offered, this budget effectively pulls the rug out.

"I hope that the budget conference committee will spend the coming weeks seeking ways to make our university stronger, our students more successful, and our economy more vital. This will require bipartisan effort. We’ll all have to wait and see whether the will exists to make it happen."