Cuts could delay Madison Initiative

January 28, 2002

Chancellor John Wiley says at least half of the Madison Initiative may be put on hold if state budget cuts proposed by Gov. Scott McCallum are approved.

As part of the governor’s plan to eliminate the state’s $1.1 billion budget deficit, McCallum proposes cutting the state’s portion of the UW System budget by 1 percent in the first year of the current biennium and 4.5 percent in the second year. The proposal would eliminate about $50.5 million from the UW System budget over two years.

Wiley says it is too early in the process to determine how much the cuts will cost UW–Madison. The plan still must be considered by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, which can amend the plan before sending it to the full Assembly and Senate. Once a plan gains legislative approval, it goes back to the governor for his signature.

However, Wiley estimates the Madison campus would absorb 25 to 40 percent of the UW System cuts. Under the governor’s proposal, that would be as much as $20 million.

“We would first look at cutting and/or delaying some of the more aggressive programs we’ve put into place recently,” Wiley says. “Right now, the Madison Initiative is the likeliest target.”

Started in 1999, the Madison Initiative is a four-year investment plan for hiring and retaining key faculty and academic staff, increasing financial aid, broadening learning opportunities, and implementing a variety of economic development opportunities. The plan is a public-private partnership between the state, students and outside donors meant to strengthen UW–Madison and help Wisconsin expand its competitiveness in the global economy.

Wiley says the governor’s plan allows the university to continue some of the priorities already underway as part of the Madison Initiative. However, much of the second half of the plan may need to be put off until at least the next biennium.

“Our top priority in the ’03-’05 state budget will be to get back everything that will be taken out in this biennium,” Wiley says. “I don’t see these budget cuts as the end of the Madison Initiative. I am viewing them as a delay.”