The full state Legislature has passed the 2019-21 state budget, and I am pleased to tell you the budget includes my two highest priorities for UW-Eau Claire: a 2% pay plan each year of the biennium for UW System employees, and $109 million for phase one of a UW-Eau Claire Science and Health Sciences Building to replace Phillips Hall, plus $1 million additional planning money for phase two of the project.
The pay plan will provide well-deserved pay increases for our hard-working, dedicated faculty and staff. Investing in faculty and staff is a key goal for UW-Eau Claire, and the pay plan affirms the importance of our employees and all they do for our students, our region and our state.
Inclusion of funding for phase one of the Science and Health Sciences Building is a major milepost for UW-Eau Claire as we continue our work to enhance our well-deserved reputation for excellence in the sciences and health sciences. Phillips Hall has served the university well for decades — and, as several lawmakers have pointed out, we have “squeezed everything out of the building” possible. Funding for the project is also great news for our research collaboration with Mayo Clinic Health System and for the ongoing growth of the health care and medical industry sectors of our region and state.
I am grateful to our regional legislators who came together in a bipartisan manner to support funding for the Science and Health Sciences Building in this year’s budget. They demonstrated throughout the budget process the ability to work together for the good of our region, and I deeply appreciate their efforts on our behalf.
Additionally, the capital budget provides $23.5 million to improve UW-Eau Claire steam line and air conditioning infrastructure. It also includes $6.7 million to renovate music practice rooms and large ensemble rooms in the Haas Fine Arts Center.
The budget now goes to Governor Tony Evers for his review and possible line-item vetoes. As you know, Governor Evers came to campus in early March to announce he had included the Science and Health Sciences Building in his capital budget proposal. In conversations with him since then, the governor has reaffirmed his support for the project and the promise our Mayo collaboration holds for UW-Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley.
Passage of the budget by the Legislature is another significant step, and I will keep you posted as it moves toward final approval.