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Media Memo: State Assembly Budget

TO: News and Assignment Editors

FROM: Mike Rindo

DATE: July 18, 2007

SUBJECT: State Assembly Budget

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich will join Governor Jim Doyle at a news conference to discuss the state budget Thursday, July 19 at 11:15 a.m. at UW-Stout in Menomonie.

An analysis of the 2007-09 budget proposal passed July 10 by the State Assembly indicates the plan reduces or eliminates all University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire new program and building initiatives, and also reduces overall state support to the university. The budget:

  • Excludes the Davies Center redevelopment project. This project has zero impact on state taxpayers — it is to be paid for entirely by the students of UW-Eau Claire. The UW System Board of Regents, State Building Commission, and State Senate previously approved the Davies Center project, but the Assembly budget plan excludes it. The Joint Committee on Finance also voted 8-8 not to forward the project as part of the state budget. This $49 million student-led initiative has strong student support: An April 2005 survey determined 75 percent were in favor of a Davies Center building project, and a December 2005 survey indicated 64 percent supported the segregated fee increases necessary to finance a Davies Center redevelopment project.
  • Reduces funds for the NanoSTEM Initiative, part of the UW System Growth Agenda for Wisconsin. The Governor's and State Senate's budget proposals include a combined $3 million in funding for NanoSTEM Initiative programming at UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout. Specific UW-Eau Claire benefits from the NanoSTEM Initiative include $1.9 million in new state funding; 12 new faculty/support staff positions; and funds to acquire additional scientific instrumentation for the Materials Science Center. However, the Assembly budget proposal eliminates the program revenue portion (primarily tuition) of the NanoSTEM Initiative, effectively reducing funding by more than 25 percent.
  • Reduces funds for UW System nursing and teacher education initiatives. The nursing initiative would enable UW-Eau Claire to increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses; expand off-site nursing programs, including its existing program at St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield; and develop new accelerated nursing programs to serve students with a bachelor's degree who want to pursue nursing as a career. The teacher education initiative would provide new positions to improve recruitment and retention of a diverse student body in teacher education, as well as assessment and evaluation of teacher education programs. As with the NanoSTEM Initiative, the program revenue portion (primarily tuition) is eliminated in the Assembly budget proposal, effectively reducing funding by more than 25 percent.
  • Effectively reduces overall state funding to the UW System by $139.6 million ($150 million is required to meet ongoing mandated obligations such as utilities, health insurance, payroll, etc. but the budget proposal funds only 20% of those costs) — UW-Eau Claire's share of that reduction can be expected to be about $5.4 million, an approximately 7.5% cut in state support.
  • Reduces by $26.4 million higher education financial aid grants awarded to Wisconsin students from families with modest means — the impact for an estimated 400 UW-Eau Claire students could be as much as $1.5 million in lost grants.
  • Eliminates $11.6 million in state funding to the UW System to pay tuition for veterans. Beginning in fall 2007, eligible veterans will receive 100% of resident tuition. Spouses and children of certain disabled or deceased veterans also are eligible for similar assistance. While UW-Eau Claire and the UW System strongly support helping veterans and their families achieve their educational goals, the Assembly budget proposal provides no state funding for veterans education — effectively shifting the costs of the program to tuition paid by all current and future students and their families. In the 2006-07 academic year, when veterans received 50% of resident tuition, the cost to UW-Eau Claire students and families was nearly $500,000 — that cost is expected to increase dramatically as the tuition funding increases to 100% and substantially more veterans begin returning to Wisconsin after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Places a price freeze on tuition and fees. In the recent past, when the state cut funding to the UW System, tuition was allowed to increase to offset a portion of the cuts. This proposal freezes tuition and certain segregated fees at 4% per year for the next four years.

Levin-Stankevich made the following statement about the Assembly Budget Proposal:

"The Assembly budget proposal has potentially serious consequences for current and future UW-Eau Claire students and their families, as well as economic development in the Chippewa Valley and Wisconsin. Fewer students from families of modest means will be able to attend the university because of cuts to financial aid and students who do attend may experience reductions in support services and class availability. The budget plan will make it nearly impossible to implement the NanoSTEM and other Growth Agenda initiatives because the overall reduction to UW-Eau Claire's budget would be nearly $5.5 million far outstripping the funding included for the initiatives. Additionally, the exclusion of Davies Center redevelopment means the region will not reap the economic benefits provided by a nearly $50 million building project paid for entirely by UW-Eau Claire students."

For additional information, contact Mike Rindo at 715-836-4742 or rindomj@uwec.edu.

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