- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus in Madison will likely take a nearly $59 million hit this budget year to help reduce the state budget deficit, according to system documents released Monday.

The system’s 2015-2016 spending plan shows UW-Milwaukee would get an $18 million cut, while the remaining 11 four-year campuses will see cuts ranging from $851,000 at UW-Superior to $7.7 million at UW-Eau Claire.

The cuts total $140.6 million for the current budget year that started July 1, with the Board of Regents expected to approve the budget Thursday. The system needs to cut a total of $250 million for the two-year budget.

The documents acknowledge that every campus will be “deeply impacted” but don’t spell out how individual schools will absorb the cuts. UW system President Ray Cross said Monday the goal is to “minimize the impact on students.”

Cross said every campus will handle the cuts differently with moves that could include layoffs, program cuts, and downsizing and streamlining administrative and academic work. A number of schools, including UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Green Bay, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Superior announced employee buyout plans this spring.

Cross noted that 183 workers have already taken those, but the Eau Claire campus employees weren’t included in that count.

He said there would be a minimal impact on the classrooms the first year, “but I can’t predict what the next year will be like.” He noted next year they won’t have as much cushion with reserves and it will take time to realize changes made this year. Officials will solidify the 2016-2017 budget next summer.

In a statement, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said besides the nearly $59 million cut there, they also have to deal with $28 million in other cuts and previous budget shortfalls. She noted they have already instituted $39 million in budget cuts, position eliminations and redirection of funds. While they will have $17 million in new revenue from a nonresident tuition increase, they still have a $35 million deficit to figure out.

“As we turn the page on this budget, it is clear that continuing to diminish state support for higher education in Wisconsin does nothing but diminish the UW System,” she said.

The cuts range from about 9 percent of state and tuition funding at Eau Claire to 3 percent at Superior. Madison’s cut is about 8 percent, and Milwaukee’s is about 7 percent.

Cross said they attempted to make a formula to institute the cuts, but there were too many outliers. So they spent about two months trying to find a “reasonable, thoughtful way that could not be articulated through a formula.”

Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s original budget proposal called for chopping $300 million out of the system over the next two fiscal years and granting the system more independence from most state laws and oversight. Republicans who control the Legislature’s finance committee, however, scaled the cut back to $250 million and blocked more flexibility for the system in a May vote.

The state budget prohibits the schools from raising resident tuition for the next two years. The Board of Regents in April approved tuition increases for out-of-state students by a least several hundred dollars.


Antlfinger reported from Milwaukee. This story has been corrected to show that UW-Madison is hardest-hit in terms of raw dollars and corrects the amount of cuts to all the schools.

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