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Chancellor's Blog: UW System 2023-25 budget requests

| Chancellor James Schmidt

The Board of Regents’ 2023-25 state budget requests aim to keep the University of Wisconsin System on track by investing in faculty and staff, student success and capital projects despite a challenging economic environment. Here are some highlights of the UW System’s budget requests and an overview of the state budget process that will determine which investments get made.

Operating budget

After a period of unusually high inflation, the Regents are requesting more funds to maintain the System’s operations, invest in our employees and new funds to help underrepresented students access higher education. Key aspects of the operating budget increase include:

  • A $114.9 million operating increase. The 2023-25 budget requests a 4% operating budget increase in both fiscal year 2024 and FY 2025. This would provide support for ongoing initiatives, including equity, diversity and inclusion; Title IX compliance; dual enrollment; sustainability; behavioral health; and academic advising. It also seeks to offset the campus impact of unfunded pay plans from 2017-2022.
  • A $123.1 million pay plan. The budget requests a 4% raise for UW System employees in both January 2024 and January 2025.
  • $24.5 million for the Wisconsin Tuition Promise. This initiative would create a last-dollar financial aid program for students with a household income of less than $62,000 per year, covering whatever academic tuition and fee costs remain after state and federal grants have been applied to a student’s account. The UW System has committed to the Tuition Promise and will fund its first year but is seeking partnership with the state to fund subsequent years of this impactful program.

Capital budget

Construction costs have been particularly impacted by inflation in the past year, and the state Department of Administration has instructed all agencies to increasing all capital project budgets using a uniform formula. I am pleased that the Regents’ 2023-25 capital budget request includes several items of significance for UW-Eau Claire.

Crucially, the UW System has recommended the remaining funds for our new Science and Health Sciences Building in the next state budget, as well as funds to demolish Phillips Hall when the new building has opened. With the required inflationary adjustment, the total request for completion funding is $235.5 million. We will continue to work with our contracted architect/engineer, campus building committee, UW System Administration, and the Department of Administration to provide updated construction estimates as more information becomes available.

I want to express my deep gratitude to the members of our Science and Health Sciences Building Committee, whose hard work has made it possible for the project to move forward:

  • Dr. Michael Carney, chair; chemistry and biochemistry, Chancellor’s Office.
  • Grace Crickette, Finance and Administration.
  • Renee Strehlau, Facilities.
  • Troy Terhark, Facilities.
  • Andrew Nord, Facilities.
  • Brian Drollinger, Risk Management, Safety and Sustainability.
  • Craig Ernst, Learning and Technology Services.
  • Dr. Derek Gingerich, biology.
  • Dr. Jamie Lyman Gingerich, biology.
  • Dr. Jennifer Dahl, chemistry and biochemistry.
  • Dr. Ezra Zeitler, geography and anthropology.
  • Dr. Brian Mahoney, geology and environmental science.
  • Dr. James Boulter, public health and environmental studies; chemistry and biochemistry.
  • Dr. Marcus McEllistrem, materials science and biomedical engineering.
  • Dr. Erik Hendrickson, physics and astronomy.
  • Dr. Rakib Islam, computer science.
  • Dr. Meg Lagunas, nursing.
  • Dr. Doug Matthews, psychology.
  • Sydney McGuine, student.
  • Leah Woodward, student.

The capital budget also includes:

  • $3.49 million for future demolition of the Brewer/Zorn/Kjer complex when the County Materials Complex is completed. Construction on the new complex began this spring and is expected to conclude in 2024.
  • $7.9 million for instructional space projects for the improvement of the art and design studio in Haas and for classroom renovations in Hibbard Hall.

State budget process

The UW System’s budget requests will be reviewed as part of Wisconsin’s biennial budget process from approximately January-July 2023.

Beginning when the governor introduces their proposed operating and capital budgets early in the year, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will then craft a version of the budget for approval by both the Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate. Once agreed to by both houses, the bill returns to the governor for line-item vetoes and final approval. This final approval often comes in early July, though the political process can be subject to unpredictable dynamics.

I will keep the University Senate apprised of state budget developments in my reports to the body throughout spring semester.