Budget Wins and Losses
The UW continues to address its priorities with Wisconsin political leaders.
State funding for the University of Wisconsin System was reduced $15.9 million in each of the next two years, and legislators withheld approval of funding for a new College of Engineering building, but UW–Madison leaders are vowing to continue to work with Governor Tony Evers ’73, MS’76, PhD’86 and legislative leaders to ensure the flagship university’s budget priorities are met.
The legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, targeted diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs across UW System, carving out nearly $32 million in state support over the upcoming biennium and calling for the elimination of 188 positions related to DEI. Evers used his veto pen to restore the positions but was not able to restore the funding.
The positions play a critical role on campus and help students from a wide variety of backgrounds succeed in college, including veterans, students with disabilities, first-generation students, and underrepresented minority students.
The legislative Joint Committee on Finance placed $32 million into a special appropriation and will consider releasing it for programs aimed at workforce development in high-demand fields, such as engineering, nursing, and computer science. UW System may return to the committee with proposals as early as this fall.
The $347 million engineering building (with $150 million coming from UW gifts and grants) was UW System’s highest budget priority. It had been included in a slate of projects proposed by Evers.
“This project continues to be a critical priority,” Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin says. “There are many business and industry leaders and legislators on both sides of the aisle who know the importance of the project, not simply for the university but for our state. We will continue to advocate and work with legislative leadership to advance the engineering building in this legislative session so that UW–Madison and the College of Engineering can come a step closer to meeting employer and student demand.”
The committee did grant its approval to a project replacing the Camp Randall Sports Center (commonly referred to as the Shell). The $285 million project is funded by a combination of athletic program revenue, segregated revenue from the state, and program revenue supported borrowing. The project includes a new indoor football practice facility, expansion and renovation of the McClain Athletic Facility, and select lower-level spaces in Camp Randall Stadium.
The biennial budget also includes a pay adjustment for state employees, including UW System, of 4 percent in the first year and 2 percent in the second year. At press time, the pay plan still required approval by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations.
Published in the Fall 2023 issue