BEN CLASSON/Herald photo

More funds could flow into research and new building projects at the University of Wisconsin if the new budget approved by the UW System Board of Regents in late August makes it through the state Legislature.

The 2009-11 operating budget request totals an increase of $124.1 million from the last biennial budget divided into revenue coming from state and tuition funds. The regents also requested $70.2 million in program revenue requests, which could be used for room and board fees and segregated fees.

Board of Regents Vice President Chuck Pruitt said the operating budget request includes “good news” for students, consisting of a $10 million proposal for recruitment and retention of faculty and a special initiative to aid graduate students, of which $5.2 million is to be used for fellowships, scholarships and tuition funds. The regents also endorsed a proposal to increase financial aid, which is not included in the overall budget request.

The proposal for the 2009-11 capital budget was set at $794.3 million for 31 major projects, which could include building renovations, construction, maintenance and repairs throughout the System, said David Miller, associate vice president for the Capital Planning and Budget Committee.

The requested budget must still be reviewed and revised by the Department of Administration, the state Legislature and Gov. Jim Doyle.

During August’s meeting, outgoing UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley addressed the regents for the final time as chancellor and urged the regents and the Legislature to not treat tuition and state support separately when working on budget requests.

Wiley said it is necessary to consider the amount of money students are responsible for paying to obtain a degree in tandem with the amount of money the state should pay to support students.

“I don’t know what the right balance is. I don’t know if two-thirds or one-third is right. I don’t know how that was ever arrived at. I don’t think there was any rational analysis behind it,” Wiley said. “But that is the right question, and that is the debate that we should be having.”

In response to Wiley’s final message to the regents, Pruitt said each budget proposal is an attempt to look at tuition and state support collectively, but the conversation between the two entities must be made “more explicit.”

The Board of Regents also offered former UW-Parkside Chancellor Jack Keating a resolution of appreciation, which emphasized his engagement with the community and initiation of growth strategies to increase infrastructure.