Chancellor talks budget

Nathan Kober, Staff Writer

Chancellor Beverly Kopper addressed concerns about impending changes to funding in the upcoming biennial state budget at Tea with the Chancellor on  Wednesday Feb. 15.   

In his recent budget proposal, Gov. Scott Walker proposed increasing funding to Wisconsin’s public K-12 education system and the UW System, for the first time since he became governor.

Walker also introduced a plan to cut tuition five percent for in state undergraduate students in the UW System. The lost tuition would be made up for with public funding.

Kopper said university administrators in the UW System would be cautious about the idea of cutting tuition, as it currently makes up such a large portion of University budgets, especially at Whitewater.

“We are extremely tuition dependent,” Kopper said. “We are already working on a very tight budget.”

State funding as a portion of university budgets in the UW System has declined for decades. In 1975, approximately 52 percent of UW-W budget came from the state, whereas now taxpayer money makes up approximately 10 percent of the university’s costs, according to a 2016 report from the UW System.

Walker has also proposed that students be given the option to opt out of paying allocable fees that support things like tutoring services on campus and student organizations. Student governments and Segregated University Fee
Allocation Committee (SUFAC) decide how these funds are spent.

This proposal immediately drew criticism from the UW System Student Representatives, an organization that represents 180,000
UW students.

“Reducing the funding for vital resources will have a detrimental effect on student success across the board, disproportionately impacting the ability of first generation and low-income groups to fully access educational opportunities,” UW student representatives said in a news release. “We urge Governor Walker and Wisconsin legislators to reject this harmful proposal.”

At Tea with the Chancellor, students were split over the proposal. Senior Allison Hetz said that she liked the idea of students having more freedom to decide how they spend their money.

“I think that if people really do like the student organizations they’re a part of they’ll support them,” Hetz said.

However, other students felt that taking away public support for student organizations would inevitably shrink their presence on campus.

Michael O’Connell,  Whitewater Student Government senator said that keeping allocable fees as an essential cost of attending university is essential to preserving the services they provide.

“I think that with all of the services we get, with all the support that comes with having an active student body, that’s something that’s definitely worth the cost,” O’Connell said.

Walker’s budget will face changes as it goes through the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee and the Wisconsin Legislature.

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