On Wednesday, April 19, I had the opportunity to testify before the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, which is holding a series of public hearings around the state to gather public input on the 2017-19 state budget. The meeting was held at Ellsworth High School and was well attended by the public, including a number of us representing UW System.
During my testimony, which you may read here (my comments were brief as testimony is limited to two minutes per person), I emphasized the importance of new state investment in the UW System. I talked about how UW-Eau Claire has made difficult budget cuts; that we are accountable to our students and the public; that we are efficient in our use of tuition and tax resources; and that we are consistently recognized for the high-quality education we provide.
During my remarks, I indicated my appreciation for the additional state funding recommended in Governor Scott Walker’s budget. I also made clear that I did not think the governor’s budget provided sufficient funding for critical infrastructure improvements — in our case, the Governors residence hall renovation and phase one of the Haas Fine Arts Center renovation and expansion. Both of those projects were included in the UW System Regents capital budget recommendations, but not in the governor’s.
Finally, I stressed the importance of providing a pay increase for our hard-working and dedicated faculty and staff. I urged committee members to include the governor’s proposed 2-percent-plus-2-percent pay plan in the budget they approve.
While we are still very early in the budget process, I can tell you that my conversations with individual legislators have been largely positive, and I am hopeful that this upcoming state budget will be more positive for our campus and UW System.