MILWAUKEE (AP) - University of Wisconsin leaders have asked Gov. Scott Walker not to spin off the flagship UW-Madison campus from the rest of the system, saying the potential move would create unnecessary competition that would hurt all the Wisconsin colleges.
Three UW leaders wrote to Walker on Tuesday saying it had “come to our attention” that Walker would propose removing the Madison university from the larger system as part of his budget proposal next week.
“We want to express strong concerns about this significant restructuring, especially without broad consultation and careful deliberation,” said the letter signed by Board of Regents President Charles Pruitt and Vice President Mike Spector and UW System President Kevin Reilly, a copy of which was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie told AP on Wednesday he couldn’t confirm anything about the budget.
“Lots of the details of the UW System including funding and flexibility will be released in the governor’s budget, which will be introduced on Tuesday,” he said.
Spinning off UW-Madison likely would mean it would be run by a separate board whose members could be handpicked by Walker, which could give the Republican governor more control over how the university is run.
Walker has been aggressive in his first six weeks in office. Thousands of people have come to the Capitol this week to protest a bill that would strip most public employees of their collective bargaining rights. He signed a bill earlier this month that gives Wisconsin companies a nominal tax break for every new job they add. He signed two other tax cut bills in January, one that wipes out corporate and personal income taxes for companies that relocate to Wisconsin and another that eliminated state income taxes on contributions to health savings accounts.
The University of Wisconsin system has 13 four-year universities and 13 two-year universities, along with a stateside UW Extension program. The system has almost 182,000 students, of which about 23 percent are at UW-Madison.