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Republican lawmakers move ahead with University diversity cuts

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(The Center Square) – As promised, Republican lawmakers have cut $32 million from the University of Wisconsin’s budget in a showdown over diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee made good on the promise from Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to send a message to the university about focusing on education, and not “indoctrination.”

“The UW System ought to be teaching them different things, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, teamwork and collaboration, professionalism and communication skills,” Rep. Alex Dallman, R-Green Lake, told reporters.

He said the university should not be “forcing these students to view the world through a lens of race, gender or economic class just to obtain one of these degrees.”

The Republican cuts mostly target DEI administrators on the 26 UW campuses, though most of them are at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

“We are cutting the university by $32 million, and eliminating roughly 188 positions,” JFC co-chair Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam explained. “There is going to be $32 million available for [the UW] to bring us a plan on how to prioritize that into workforce developments.”

UW System President Jay Rothman, again, said the university cannot afford any budget cuts.

“The compensation adjustments announced by the committee are appreciated,” Rothman said in a statement. “However, Wisconsin’s public universities are already near the bottom nationally, at 42nd, in public funding. Investments at even half the rate of inflation would have afforded us a real opportunity to develop the talent that tomorrow’s workforce desperately needs. Instead, continued erosion of state investment will diminish student access and affordability at our public universities. This is a missed opportunity and a significant setback to Wisconsin’s efforts to win the war for talent.

The University of Wisconsin’s operating budget for the current school year is just over $6.8 billion. A $32 million ‘adjustment’ comes to less than half of one percent of what the UW System will spend.

Although Gov. Evers had promised to veto any DEI cuts in the past, he did not say on Thursday what he intends to do with this Republican plan.

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