Walker’s proposed funding cuts would cost UW-L millions

Smaller budget could mean a decrease in UW-L staff

Schools in the University of Wisconsin System could lose funding over the next two years. This loss is part of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s latest budget proposal; the plan also calls for a two-year tuition freeze.

Starting this fall the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s budget could take a multimillion dollar hit.

“For us here at University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, the two big sources are tuition and state support, and when one of those is frozen and one is being cut dramatically that’s a big challenge,” UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow said.

Under Gov. Walker’s plan, UW-L would see a $12 million  reduction in its operating budget over the next two years.

“We have a very efficient operation; there are not a lot of things we could do without,” Gow said.

Chancellor Joe Gow said he wants to make sure the UW-L student experience remains untouched by cuts, and instead is focusing on reducing staff and faculty.

“The last resort would be laying people off,” Gow said. “What we will look at are vacant positions, are there things that we can leave unfilled and save money that way.”

“These are not things that we want to do but we really don’t have a choice in the matter.”Gow said.

However, Gov. Walker said in return for reducing state money, the UW System schools will be allowed to split from the state, giving them much more choice.

“We give them absolute authority and responsibility over their budget which makes them more flexible and more accountable at the same time,” Walker said.

Rep. Jill Billings said UW schools will likely struggle with the tuition freeze but said the plan is positive in the long term.

“This gives the UW System an ability to look at some things like building projects, some employee issues and be able to do it without the hand of the governor the legislature,” Billings said. While Gow admits less state involvement is beneficial he said he would rather have more state funding.

“The way it is with K-12, and then modest tuition increases to cover inflation,” Gow said.

UW-L has several multimillion-dollar building projects set to break ground in the next few years. Those developments will not be affected by state funding cuts since most of the money for those projects is raised on campus.