Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Experts break down components of budget crucial to student life

Throughout the past several months, legislators in Wisconsin have participated in countless hours of debate surrounding solutions to the state deficit.

According to figures from Gov. Scott Walker’s office, the state faces a $3.6 billion debt. Experts around Wisconsin agree the 2011-13 biennial budget, signed on June 26, makes serious cuts to offset the deficit.

While it is certain students will be impacted by the cuts, experts have varying opinions on how the effects will be manifested on campus.


Cuts to the University of Wisconsin System

The budget calls for a UW System funding reduction of $250 million spanning the next two years. The flagship university – UW-Madison – will absorb $94 million of the cut, UW political science professor Barry Burden said.

With the introduction of Interim Chancellor David Ward, university administrators are working to determine how the state funding cuts can be best applied to UW.

“It will be a challenge for the university to compete for the best students, staff and faculty while facing such a dramatic reduction in revenue,” Burden said.

As a result of the cuts to the UW System, all students will see 5.5 percent tuition increase added to their bill.

UW Autonomy

New budgetary provisions also allow for UW to have more independence from the rest of the UW System.

“The university will be able to develop its own hiring and salary plans,” Burden said. “This represents part of the flexibilities proposed under [former Chancellor Biddy Martin’s] New Badger Partnership idea.”

Burden said the university and government officials would explore further ways to allow UW more independence under the next budget cycle.

The majority of the 2011 spring semester was filled with heated debate and discussion surrounding Martin’s proposal for the Partnership, a proposal to allow the flagship greater operating autonomy from the state. Martin’s bid fell short on legislative support just weeks before she announced she would be leaving her position at UW.


Figures presented in the budget show BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s public heath program, could take a several million-dollar cut, Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, said.

Hansen said there would be $500 million in cuts to the area of the budget that typically supports programs like BadgerCare and Homestead. How and where the cuts will be made is up to the state’s secretary of the Department of Human Services.

“It’s a matter of priority, and [the Republicans’] priority is to further benefit the elite while taking the cuts out on students and the elderly,” Hansen said. “The state motto is ‘Forward,’ but I think we are moving in the opposite direction.”

Still, according to a statement from Walker’s office, the governor and Republican leadership intended to build a budget that would solve the deficit without raising taxes and maintaining “important government services” such as BadgerCare.

Despite the cuts directly to BadgerCare, the budget gives an additional $1.2 billion to the state’s Medicaid program. Almost all new revenue the state makes throughout this budget cycle will be directed toward the Department of Health Services, the statement said.

Cuts to State Agencies

According to a statement from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, the budget “cuts wasteful spending” to various state agencies while creating a 1.8 percent increase in the overall funds budget in comparison to Wisconsin’s previous budget.

Following the nation-wide discussion on the merits of eliminating or minimizing funding in the federal budget for abortions and clinics that provide the procedure, Walker’s budget eliminates a $1.9 million state grant to Planned Parenthood that had been in effect since 2009.

The Legislature also voted to remove the state’s agency-level Arts Board and eliminate an earmark for the Milwaukee Black Holocaust Museum, which closed in 2008 but was overlooked in the most recent biennial budget, in order to cut down on agency funding.

All state agencies will also be required to “undergo regular base budget reviews to identify wasteful spending,” the statement from Fitzgerald’s office said.

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