Public hearing addresses budget cuts

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In the wake of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal, employers around Whitewater are readying for challenging economic times and changes in their staffing and services.

The important thing for the employers is informing the citizens what the plans are to reduce the state’s budget deficit. That’s why the Whitewater League of Women Voters organized a public hearing May 4, bringing together officials and leaders from UW-Whitewater and the Whitewater Unified School District.

State Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, and Rep. Evan Wynn, R-Whitewater, joined the eight-member panel. They both agreed that Wisconsin is facing a fiscal crisis but disagreed in the ways of addressing it.

Cullen would like the cuts in state spending to be spread out over a four-year period, limiting the reduction in services Whitewater citizens will see in that time. On the other hand, Wynn said he doesn’t have too many problems with the budget but has put in a few budget amendments.

“In terms of its priorities and values, I couldn’t disagree more with so much of this budget,” Cullen said. “The changes I would want to make to the budget are more than the governor wants to make.”

Many of the problems UW-Whitewater will face with reductions in the next two years will depend on whether or not the proposed splitting of UW-Madison from the UW System comes true.

Chancellor Richard Telfer said the preliminary budget estimates that Walker’s plan will cut nearly $4.3 million from the university, although that deficit could be slimmed to $1.4 million.

“Part of what we would like to do is use that money for some of the other needs we have,” he said. “We understand there are cuts that are coming. Give us the tools to try and manage that, and that’s really what we’re asking for.”