Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                                                 Lamonté Moore                  

January 28, 2015                                                                                                           Phone: (414) 520-0540                                                                                                           

Wisconsin is Closed for Education:

 Access & Affordability in an Era of Divestment

Madison, WI--In order to balance his 2.2 billion dollar deficit, yesterday Walker revealed his plan to cut Wisconsin’s public higher education institutions by $300 million - the same public higher education institutions that bolster Wisconsin’s economy by more than $15 billion annually. It goes without saying that the Governor’s divestment in the UW System is a grave divestment in Wisconsin as a whole.

Cuts this large in the upcoming biennium will leave universities across the system with no real foundation for the future - leaving faculty, students, and university programs without support. Governor Walker attempted to soften his attack on public higher education with the unfounded notion that this financial cut to the UW System is a reasonable exchange for more independence from state oversight. This “exchange” will feel more like a punishment to students, faculty and community members.

In light of past budget cuts and the Tuition Freeze, the UW System has compensated this divestment by leveraging reserve balances and by making cuts, mostly to academic department funding; ultimately diminishing the value of the UW degree. Moreover, the lurking danger of an underfunded UW System, without the present state cap of 5.5%, essentially results in a state-endorsed tuition hike in 2017 that will surely price out Wisconsin citizens from an affordable UW education.

Although UW System President Ray Cross has mixed feelings about the exchange, students have no mixed feelings on the matter and have denied Walker’s plan. Students do not stand alone in their dissent but are accompanied by both Republicans, like Senator Steve Nass, and Democrat legislators.

This senseless exchange denies that the UW System has been a driving economic force within Wisconsin for decades, and has been vital to the state economy. Instead, Wisconsin must continue to prioritize public higher education and thereby the success of its citizens. The 183,000 UW students need the Governor to invest in the UW System and recognize that we, the students, are the future stakeholders of Wisconsin’s economy. Wisconsin will not be open for business, if Wisconsin is also closed to maintaining access to public higher education.