UW-La Crosse prepares to deal with potentially biggest cut in its history

Possible cuts to the classroom; increase in students; sizable reduction in staff

UW-La Crosse could lose $12 million to $14 million as a result of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget plan. The funding shortage would mean cuts to the classroom, a possible increase in students and a sizable reduction in staff.

UW-L students rely heavily on the 1,100 instructors, staff, and faulty members that make their school run. Eighty-six percent of the school’s $223 million annual budget goes right into paying employees.

As a result of Walker’s proposed budget plan UW-L could lose up to $14 million dollars in the next two years. To balance out the possible cuts, UW-L chancellor Joe Gow and others are looking at reducing staff by 25 positions.

They plan to do that by leaving most of the 20 currently vacant positions at the university unfilled, but that still won’t be enough.

“You know we were hoping that we weren’t going to have to do layoffs but that’s getting harder and harder to say,” Gow said.

Walker proposed the cuts to offset a projected $2.2 billion deficit and give universities more autonomy.

“It’s $150 million a year for each of the two biennium, that is 2-and-a-half percent of the total University of Wisconsin operating budget so it is a fraction of the total budget. I think our proposal as is already includes a block grant with an adjustment for inflation,” Walker said.

However, Gow said that cuts are large.

“Here at UW-L we are a lean entity, and to say cut some more and ‘cut this big,’ that’s very hard to do,” Gow said.

Aside from reducing faculty, UW-L is also talking about cutting back on supplies for subjects like chemistry. There is also talk of admitting 50 more students next year.

Wisconsin’s budget will go through a series of votes and public hearings before it’s finalized sometime before July 1.