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Evers issues call for more UW money

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(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s governor is again asking for millions of more dollars for the University of Wisconsin, but lawmakers aren’t going to be doing anything anytime soon.

Gov. Tony Evers issued a call for more funding following a string of bleak financial reports from seven UW campuses.

“Republican lawmakers have spent more than a decade waging war on public education in Wisconsin, including our UW System and higher education institutions, and have consistently refused to make the necessary, meaningful investments our state and our campuses desperately need to compete and that our students deserve. And the consequences of Republicans’ actions and inaction over the last decade-plus were laid bare in these financial assessments,” the governor said in a statement.

Those reports, which cover the campuses in Green Bay, Oshkosh, Parkside, Platteville, River Falls, Superior, and Whitewater, show largely flat or falling enrollment, rising expenses and deficit at almost every campus outside of Madison.

UW president Jay Rothman echoed the governor in asking the legislature for more money.

“While we will do our part on the expense side of the ledger, ultimately it is up to the state to decide whether it wants and can afford a weakened Universities of Wisconsin. The adage is that you get what you pay for,” Rothman added.

Rothman said students now pay for more of the UW’s operating budget, 23%, than the state, 18%.

The UW’s total budget is just more than $7.5 billion for the next two years.

It is unlikely that Wisconsin lawmakers will take up the governor’s call. The legislature wrapped-up business for the year weeks ago. The earliest lawmakers are likely to return is after the November election. But by then, there’s a chance the Assembly could be Democrat-controlled. State Representatives are all running under new-Democrat friendly maps.

The financial reports for the seven campuses show all but UW-Green Bay have lost students since 2016, in some cases enrollment is down more than 20%. All of the campuses have a retention rate well below the state average. And the campuses are almost all reporting a drop in the number of degrees being awarded.

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