A First Look at the Governor’s Proposed Budget
Like many of you, I tuned into Governor Tony Evers’ budget address last night. As I watched, I couldn’t help but get excited about all that this upcoming budget could mean for UW-Eau Claire, the Chippewa Valley and all of northwestern Wisconsin. Here’s a first take on what’s in the budget proposal.
One note before I continue: This operating budget is the first of the governor’s two budget proposals. The second, the capital budget, is expected in the next seven to 10 days when we will learn more about the status of one of our biggest priorities, namely funding for a new Science and Health Sciences Building to replace Phillips Hall. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
The governor’s operating budget for the UW System includes many of the priorities included in the Board of Regents proposal, and that I touted to candidates for office during last year’s campaign. It reinvests $150 million in the UW System, including funding for two-percent pay increases for UW System employees in each year of the biennium. This is good news and an important step to ensure we can recruit and retain talented, student-focused faculty and staff as well as address critical classroom needs.
Additionally, the governor’s budget includes $40 million over the biennium for capacity-building initiatives so institutions can implement critical programs that will meet the needs of the state. For UW-Eau Claire, that means the opportunity to implement new health sciences programs in bioinformatics and biomedical engineering. It would also provide funding to establish a nursing BSN completion program in Barron County in order to help address growing demand in rural northwest Wisconsin. With shortages of nurses and doctors projected for our part of the state, and with a growing need for healthcare researchers who can reimagine the ways we fight disease, these capacity-building initiatives will position us to be at the forefront in helping to meet some of our region’s most pressing issues.
Finally, Governor Evers extended the tuition freeze for another two years but also proposed funding to cover the unavoidable inflationary expenses of operating a university campus. This helps to keep tuition steady for our students and their families, while enabling us to maintain our academic quality.
For a summary of Governor Evers’ proposals for the UW System’s operating budget, please see this overview from our university relations team and the opinion article that will appear in the March 3 Leader-Telegram.