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Evers, Wisconsin Democrats slam UW regents’ second vote on DEI deal

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(The Center Square) – Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol are furious with Republican lawmakers after Universities of Wisconsin regents voted to accept the deal that will roll back some diversity, equity and inclusion jobs.

Regents voted Wednesday night to accept the deal that repurposes a little more than 40 DEI administrators in exchange for $800 million for UW pay raises, a new engineering building on the Madison campus and millions more in other university needs.

Gov. Tony Evers said regents were essentially forced to take the deal.

“This vote today represents a vast overreach by a group of Republicans who’ve grown exceedingly comfortable overextending, manipulating, and abusing their power to control, subvert, and obstruct basic functions of government,” Evers said.

UW regents voted down the same deal Saturday.

Evers said then, and said again on Wednesday, he supported that vote.

“This exercise has been about one thing – the relentless political tantrums, ultimatums and threats of retribution by legislative Republicans, most especially Speaker Robin Vos, his negotiation-by-bullying tactics, and general disdain for public education at every level,” Evers said. “I disagree with the regents’ decision today. I am disappointed and frustrated with this result, this proposal and the process that led up to this point.”

Vos said the deal will bring some needed changes.

“I’m glad [regents] approved the compromise tonight despite reported last-minute lobbying by Gov. Evers to scuttle the deal,” Vos said on social media. “We finally have turned the corner and gotten real reforms enacted. Republicans know this is just the first step in what will be our continuing efforts to eliminate these cancerous DEI practices on UW campuses.”

Democrats in the state legislature also blasted Vos and the regents’ second vote.

“Last week, after the speaker’s ‘deal’ was rejected by the Board of Regents, he and other legislative Republicans began threatening the state’s premier economic engine – our UW campuses – into the next budget over a crisis entirely of his creation. Speaker Vos and legislative Republicans are choosing to utilize the UW System, Senate confirmation authority and people’s paychecks as pawns to stoke the flames of their unpopular culture wars,” Senate Minority Leader Diane Hesselbein said in a statement.

The top Democrat in the State Assembly, Greta Neubauer, echoed Hesselbein’s sentiment.

“Speaker Vos and Legislative Republicans, in a blatant power grab, have held up pay raises for nearly six months and delayed critical building projects, waging culture wars at the expense of workers, students, and our communities. These attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion move our state backwards, and Republicans’ meddling in the daily functioning of the Universities of Wisconsin sets a terrible precedent,” Neubauer said.

UW President Jay Rothman said the agreement between Republicans and the university is a good compromise.

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