State News

​JFC holds off vote on UW System tuition cut

The Joint Finance Committee did not vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal for the UW System because lawmakers were in disagreement over tuition rates.

Image By: Amileah Sutliff

The state’s Joint Finance Committee decided Tuesday to postpone a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget for the UW System, with Republicans in a disagreement over tuition rates.

Walker’s budget proposed a 5 percent tuition reduction for in-state students, as well as an additional $35 million in UW System funding and a plan to reward schools with more funding based off of performance-based metrics.

Republicans could not come to an agreement Tuesday about whether to continue the tuition freeze or adopt the 5 percent tuition reduction, but Republicans in both the state Senate and the state Assembly agreed they do not want to increase UW tuition.

UW-River Falls student body vice president James VandenBergh said he didn’t necessarily have a problem with the delay because he wants it to be a logical decision.

“My hope is that they use this extra time to do more research so that when they do decide to make a decision, it’s one that’s going to benefit the most amount of students and is going to be a decision that is really going to help the UW System overall,” VandenBergh said.

For some, Walker’s original budget proposal appeared to be a move for a potential 2018 re-election bid. His proposed 5 percent tuition reduction has received criticism from other lawmakers who think the money should go toward financial aid instead of a tuition reduction.

Chair of Legislative Affairs Kat Kerwin urged JFC in a press release to support the 4 percent tuition reduction as an alternative to Gov. Walker’s proposed 5 percent cut for the UW System.

Kerwin said it was ASM’s “understanding that the tuition reduction will not pass this session."

“We believe swapping the Governor’s recommendation of a five percent tuition reduction for an increased base number of eligibility for Wisconsin grants, an increase in EFC funding per UW System student, increased tuition assistance and grant funding, and an increase in funding for fringe benefits and UW employee salaries would best serve the system, and work toward the overarching goal of making education more accessible and affordable for Wisconsinites,” Kerwin said in the release.

Although dissatisfied with the delay on the vote, Kerwin said she was not surprised.

“While I am disappointed, I am still optimistic about alternative four and am hoping this is the direction the JFC decides to take,” Kerwin said. “I believe along with the state that alternative four is the next best option to the tuition reduction.”

Senate Republicans will meet next week to discuss the issue but it has not been announced when the JFC will vote.

UPDATE May 23, 6:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Republicans in the state Senate and state Assembly agreed that they wanted an increase in UW tuition. However, they agree that they do not want an increase. The Daily Cardinal regrets this error. 

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