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Governor signs budget

July 26, 2002

The governor has signed a budget repair bill addressing Wisconsin’s $1 billion budget deficit with measures including some cuts to UW System funding.

Cuts will reduce the UW System budget by approximately $44 million for the coming academic year and beyond.

UW–Madison Chancellor John Wiley says about $17 million will come from UW–Madison. The budget agreement also caps tuition increases at eight percent for resident undergraduates.

“Though these cuts require us to make some difficult decisions, we will be able to maintain the level of instruction and research that has made UW–Madison a preeminent institution of higher learning,” Wiley says. “This budget also allows us to accomplish some – but not all — of the economic development goals contained in the Madison Initiative.”

The budget adjustment bill was finally sent July 8 to Gov. Scott McCallum after it narrowly passed the Assembly on a 50-47 vote. The Senate had passed the bill on a 17-16 vote.

McCallum vetoed a number of provisions of interest to the UW System. Vetoes would:

  • Drop a provision requiring a full cost surcharge on resident undergrads who take more than 165 credits.
  • Remove a requirement included by the Legislature that 20 percent of all vacant state employee positions each year be left unfilled. A requirement to report on the number of vacancies each year and the savings that would accrue if they were not filled remains as part of the budget.
  • Eliminate state administration department approval of publications, and review of all contractual services costs.

The governor did not veto measures requiring consolidation of state and university vehicle fleet maintenance or a base budget review requirement for all state agencies.

The governor also left intact language linking funding levels for state financial aid programs with tuition increases. The budget increases Wisconsin Higher Education Grants by $1,673,500 and increases Lawton grants by $400,000.

“This allows us to continue providing access to this institution for many students who could not otherwise afford it,” Wiley says. “It will also assist us in recruiting a diverse student body.”

The governor also approved a provision that accelerates the BioStar program so that full funding is authorized over eight years instead of 10 years.

“I appreciate the fact that even in these difficult fiscal times the governor and legislature recognize the importance of continuing to invest in those areas that will help grow the state’s economy,” Wiley says. “The research and technology transfer to the private sector that will come from the state’s investment in BioStar is a critical part of future economic development.”

Of the $189 million in spending cuts, the UW System’s cut is $44.2 million or 23.4 percent of the total. The UW System constitutes less than 9 percent of total state general fund spending, according to UW System officials.

Also, the budget:

  • Does not require state employees to make minimum contributions toward health insurance premiums.
  • Increases funding for the State Lab of Hygiene by $223,300.
  • Increases funding for the Waisman Center by $300,000.
  • Cuts funding for the Vet Diagnostic Lab by $133,200.

A number of other proposals that had been included in various versions of the budget adjustment package were dropped before the bill reached the governor, including measures that would:

  • Cut the UW System advertising budget.
  • Eliminate study abroad funding.
  • Reduce UW travel budgets by 50 percent.
  • Reduce state printing by 10 percent.
  • Reduce the compensation reserve.