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State budget with more UW cuts sent to Doyle for consideration

July 6, 2005

A state budget that could inflict another $35 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin System and requires non-union state workers to contribute 1.5 percent of their salary to their retirement accounts won approval in the Republican-run Legislature and now faces veto scrutiny by Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle.

The 17-16 vote by the Republican-controlled Senate early July 1 drew immediate criticism from UW officials. The state Assembly accepted the Senate’s version of the budget on a 52-43 vote on July 5.

“Managing the existing cuts has been hard enough,” Chancellor John D. Wiley says. “Managing more, particularly through a process that has appeared at times to be more ad hoc than well-reasoned, simply mires the university ever deeper in the quicksand of uncertain and markedly reduced state support.”

The Senate’s version of the 2005-07 budget cuts $34 million from the UW System budget. Lawmakers upset with the university’s handling of the leave situation involving former Vice Chancellor Paul Barrows pushed for an additional $1 million cut in UW–Madison’s administrative budget.

UW System President Kevin Reilly says he was “deeply disappointed” that the Senate did not restore $13 million in student financial aid, $11 million in funds for new faculty or any of the $25 million in cuts taken from campus budgets beyond Doyle’s proposal.

The additional $34 million in cuts are part of nearly $100 million in agency reductions across state government added by the Senate and backed by the Assembly. Agencies that need the money may apply the to Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee for release of the money.

Reilly also criticized the decision to require workers to make state pension contributions.

“This comes at a time when the pay plan for highly sought after faculty and staff is significantly behind our peers, and proposal call for a pay plan increase of just 2 percent, after two years of zero and 1 percent, respectively,” Reilly says. “The action would effectively mean just a half percent increase in compensation. This is no way to encourage our prized and committed staff to stay and continue to make their contributions in Wisconsin.”

Doyle can exercise his powerful line-item veto in the budget, but the governor has not ruled out vetoing the entire spending plan.