The committee also heard a presentation from ASM Adviser Michael Moscicke concerning federal and state budgets and how members of student government can get involved.
At the federal level, Moscicke said it is important to understand how the federal budget can impact the University of Wisconsin.
“The federal government provides funding for the UW through federal research grants and through federal financial aid such as Pell Grants and Stafford Loans,” Moscicke said.
Moscicke said UW could lose these grants for two reasons, including the possibility of another university starting to do the same research better than UW and the federal government deciding to increase spending.
Moscicke said grants in particular are incredibly rigorous and competitive. He said the grants the university receives are usually for research.
“If our research funding goes down, that means we are going to have to find funding for research elsewhere. That means private companies or other states are going to fund our research,” Moscicke said.
Moscicke also said federal spending on research has increased 52 percent from $557 million to $851 million.
At the state level, Moscicke said the state has reprioritized its spending, focusing more on personal health care than tuition. He said Wisconsin is currently ranked No. 23 in the United States for state funding for higher education.
“Overall what contributes to the reduction in the UW as a percent of state general purpose revenue are Medicaid, Medicare and Badgercare,” Moscicke said. “These have eaten up our state budget.”
He said there is no mandate to spend money on higher education but added there is a mandate for health care programs.
In regard to the state budget, Legislative Affairs Chair Daniel Statter said it is also important for students to understand the importance of a tuition freeze. He said in the past the Legislature has put in place a tuition freeze, which then tells the UW System that it cannot raise the tuition more than a certain percentage.
“Understanding the tuition cap and how that can provide not only real savings to students and families but can also provide consistency for prospective students to plan ahead, to know that they don’t have to put aside an extra 20 percent into their savings fund just to match tuition increases,” Statter said.
He said even with the tuition freeze, students saw an increase in tuition by 5.5 percent each year.
Statter also said he would urge students to get involved in issues that matter to them and stressed the importance of student advocacy. He said while students can make numerous changes through their involvement, student advocacy has many other benefits.
“Aside from the issues mattering and the actual changes students can make by communicating their positions on issues, it is a really great experience for students to make a case,” Statter said. “To know the issue, to make a personal case for an issue and to actually make an ask of someone.”