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Budget 101: The lowdown on everything budget related and how it will affect UW-Whitewater

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Feb. 25, 2015

By Alexandria Zamecnik


Three weeks after Gov. Scott Walker proposed his 2015-17 biennium budget and the UW System is still unsure about its future. Numbers have been thrown around and ideas have been proposed about how UW-Whitewater will make up for the lost funding.

Chancellor Richard Telfer has sent messages to the campus and met with faculty, staff and students to discuss the impact this budget may have. In a letter to the campus community, Telfer said in the past when the university has undergone large cuts, it was allowed to increase tuition to make up for the reduction.

With the proposed freeze on tuition, UW-W will not be able to make up for cuts in funding with in-state tuition increases. Students who live out-of-state or are in the Graduate program, however, may see an increase in tuition.

Telfer said in a Whitewater Student Government meeting on Feb. 9 that nothing is off the table when it comes to these cuts. ­

Although specific numbers are not available, the university estimates it will have to cut approximately $7.44 million, not including debt service.

“Our cut without debt service is a little over 6 percent,” said Jan Bilgen, associate director of Career and Leadership Development. “Some of those numbers are going to change because we don’t know what’s coming down the pipe from the Joint Finance Committee or the Legislature.”

In the upcoming weeks, the budget will go through the Joint Finance Committee which is made up of legislators in both houses. The committee conducts a series of hearings around the state to gauge opinion, and after hearing that input it puts together its own version of the budget. Then the budget goes to the Senate and the Assembly to be passed, where it is then vetoed or approved by Gov. Walker.

To combat these reductions, the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee met to discuss possible options for cutting money.

Those options include using a number of one-time reserve funds to temporarily fix the cut for the first year, hold positions that are currently in the process of being hired, shift positions to other funding sources, postpone campus funded remodeling and equipment purchases, reduce funding for campaign initiatives and raise tuition for students not covered by the freeze.

Since 1996, professors take home pay has been reduced from anywhere to 8 and 13 percent, Bilgen said.
Some professors feared there would be a hiring freeze or promotion freeze included in the cuts.

“I do not believe I ever said, nor would I ever say, there would be a promotion freeze,” Telfer said. “If it was interpreted that way I do need to correct that. We’ll talk about a lot of things and that may be one we talk about, but I never said there would be a promotion freeze.”

Telfer also said he does not believe in hiring freezes because there are positions that need to be hired.

Students could see increased class sizes, decreased course options, less professors, decreased numbers of student jobs on campus, decreased quality of services on campus and increases in tuition after the tuition freeze ends, according to a presentation by Michael Heck, intergovernmental affairs director of Whitewater Student Government.

After the freeze ends, the cost of tuition will be left to the Board of Regents to decide. If the board sees fit, they will place caps on how high the cost can go.


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Budget 101: The lowdown on everything budget related and how it will affect UW-Whitewater