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Statement by Chancellor Wiley on governor’s budget

February 19, 2003

The following statement was issued today by UW–Madison Chancellor John Wiley in response to Governor Jim Doyle’s budget message.

The $250 million budget cut for the UW System proposed by Governor Doyle is obviously enormous. It is the single largest cut to any state agency and, if approved by the Legislature, it will be the largest budget reduction ever taken by the university.

Given the size of the budget cut, it is critical that tuition be increased to substantially offset the reduction in state funding. The university system simply cannot absorb a quarter billion dollar reduction in its budget without severely impacting the quality of the education we provide and the number of students we are able to educate. While no one likes to increase tuition, we have to recognize that tuition and fees at UW–Madison for new resident undergraduate students are $1,800 below the midpoint of our peer institutions in the Big Ten. In fact, even with a $700 increase in tuition UW–Madison would remain next to last in tuition and fees charged to those students.

While our tuition remains reasonable even under the Governor’s proposal, it is also essential that financial aid increase sufficiently to offset the tuition increase for qualified students. It is essential that no Wisconsin resident be denied an opportunity to attend a UW campus simply because of cost.

While we do not yet know what fraction of the UW System budget reduction will be passed on to UW–Madison, we know that it will be substantial. We will manage the cuts as best we can to minimize the effect on the quality of education we provide or the number of students we enroll. Although less than 3 percent of our budget currently supports administrative activities, we will look for ways to become even more efficient. However, the size of this budget cut, on top of the $20 million in cuts this campus has taken during the 2001-03 biennium, means that we will be forced to eliminate some academic programs and services.

The university must be part of the short-term solution in solving the state’s fiscal crisis, but it must also remain healthy enough to be part of the long-term solution by educating students and creating high skill, high wage jobs in Wisconsin that will be vital to growing the economy. It is my hope that we can continue to talk with Governor Doyle and the Legislature about what is needed for us to do that as the budget process continues.