A lead member of the state’s powerful Joint Finance Committee said Sunday he thought the governor’s plan to allow the University of Wisconsin to spin off from other state schools is a complicated issue that may require more than one budget cycle to decide.
JFC co-chair Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington, told Milwaukee television host Mike Gousha he agrees with giving additional flexibility to the state’s flagship university, but thought splitting the campus from the rest of the UW System is a tall order for the Legislature to tackle.
“I’m positive we’re going to give some additional flexibility, but not go all the way to allow UW-Madison to spin off and set its own tuition and all the things without more oversight,” Vos said on Upfront with Mike Gousha.
Vos and the rest of the JFC members finished holding the last of four public hearings on the governor’s budget this past week. His spokesperson Kit Beyer said testimony at the hearings, delivered by high-profile state educators like UW System chancellors and Board of Regents members, raised concerns about the split.
She added Vos had been looking into the possible split before the hearings as something that needed to be examined more before making a stance. Vos, whose district ends just shy of UW-Parkside, wanted to make sure the UW-Madison split would not mean other state universities would be treated as secondary.
Despite Vos’ comments to Gousha, UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, who spent part of Monday with Vos in his district, said she remains optimistic the split will be approved.
“This is not really a disappointment. The legislator has been preoccupied with other issues and they’re getting to the point of taking a stronger interest in our part of the budget bill,” Martin said. “I still have a lot of confidence it will go through.”
Members of the JFC will begin meeting next week to discuss their findings from the public hearings, and Martin said she will be making a concerted effort to spread word of the positive effects the split would have on UW-Madison and the state in general.
Rep. Pat Strachota, R-West Bend, and Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, could not be reached for comment.