Will Gov. Walker’s biennial budget include more flexibility for UW system?

Walker will release 2015-2017 budget Feb. 3

Wisconsin faces a more than $2 billion budget deficit.   

With only a few more weeks until Gov. Scott Walker proposes his new budget, he is looking at ways to reduce the deficit and one in particular is causing some concern.

One possible solution the governor may be looking at is trying to reduce the amount of state money given to UW system schools.  

In return, the universities would receive more flexibility when it comes to running the school.

It may sound good on paper, but UW-La Crosse’s Chancellor Joe Gow said there are certain things that would have to happen for it to work

It may look pretty empty right now but in less than a week UW-La Crosse will be back in business as the spring semester begins.

Before the students head back to class, Gow delivers his biannual speech to faculty and staff

“This is the 16th time I have done this. We do it every time in the beginning of the fall and spring,” said Gow.

It seems rather routine by now, but Gow is prepared to talk about possible changes in the University of Wisconsin system.

In the upcoming 2015-2017 biennial budget, Walker may propose giving colleges within the University of Wisconsin system more flexibility when it comes to spending school funds.

“On one hand we would like more flexibility, but on the other hand we need the ability to set our tuition rate and have continued support from our state,” said Gow.

Right now universities are under a tuition freeze. If the tradeoff for more flexibility is less state funding, then Gow said the ability for a university to set its own tuition rate would have to be included in the flexibility.

“The two biggest drivers at UWL for revenue is tuition and state support,” said Gow. “The reality is it takes money to provide a quality academic experience. But if our state funding isn’t there and we can’t raise our tuition a little bit, we can’t keep doing what we do.”

Walker tried to introduce an idea similar to this about four years ago called a New Badger Partnership but it failed to gain support from both parties.

More information about the proposed increased flexibility will be included in Walker’s 2015-2017 budget, which is expected to be released on Feb. 3.