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Chancellor Martin’s statement on Governor Walker’s budget proposal

March 1, 2011

University of Wisconsin–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin said Tuesday that Governor Scott Walker’s proposed cuts to higher education in Wisconsin will be very difficult to absorb after years of cuts to the campuses. She is encouraged, on the other hand, by the governor’s forward-looking proposal to give increased flexibility to UW–Madison, and, over time, other UW System institutions.

Martin attended Walker’s presentation of the 2011-13 biennial budget. In his budget proposal, Walker reduces aid to UW–Madison by $125 million over the two-year funding period- half of the $250 million reduction he proposes for the UW System. The cut to UW–Madison will be 13 percent of total GPR funding to the campus.

“We have known that the cuts would be deep and painful,” Martin said. “They are. Now, we must use the tools at our disposal to minimize the short-term pain and maximize the asset that UW–Madison represents to the state of Wisconsin.” Martin praised Walker’s proposal for establishing a model that achieves the goals of the New Badger Partnership. The final proposal appears to be consistent with details outlined by UW–Madison last week.

“That model will give us greater ability to preserve our strengths and remain one of the nation’s great public flagships, in service to the state, its economy and its communities,” she said. “It will give us the opportunity to rebound more quickly and enhance our quality over time. As the economy improves over the next couple of years, I hope the state and its citizens will invest again in our superb universities.”

For more than a year, Martin has argued the New Badger Partnership was necessary to give the university new tools to manage its finances and retain quality with expected decreases in funding. In conversations about the university’s future, Martin said she has heard concerns about the future of UW–Madison after years of budget cuts and salary reductions.

Chancellors from other UW System institutions have said they also need the flexibility that UW–Madison would gain through a public authority, and Martin said she continues to support their call for similar treatment. In addition to UW–Madison’s public authority, the budget proposal includes $250,000 over the biennium for UW-Milwaukee to develop a plan to convert the state’s other doctoral institution to a public authority.

Martin said the university would begin the hard work necessary to manage the budget cuts. She added that decisions about how cuts would be allocated across campus have not been made, but would be based on a consultative process during the next two months.

“We will deal with the cuts using a combination of tools — savings from flexibilities and new forms of budgetary authority, thoughtful approaches to tuition increases, efficiencies we gain from the study of our administrative functions, and necessary cuts to our budgets,” Martin said.

For more information on how the budget will affect UW–Madison, visit Martin will also host two campus forums over the next two weeks: Wednesday, March 2, at 9 a.m., Ebling Symposium Center on the first floor of the Microbial Sciences Building, 1550 Linden Drive; and Tuesday, March 8, at 1:30 p.m., Plenary Room at Grainger Hall, 975 University Ave.

Martin and other UW–Madison officials will also participate in an hour-long web chat Wednesday, March 2, at 3 p.m. The chat can be accessed here.