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Friday, June 14, 2024

McCallum trims agency budgets, but not UW System instruction

Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum announced Tuesday a 3.5 percent budget cut for nearly all state agencies in the 2001-'02 fiscal year, resulting in a $4.2 million cut in UW System expenses unrelated to research and instruction. 




The budget cut will save the state around $60 million, but McCallum estimates the state's budget deficit will run near the higher end of a $300 million to $1.3 billion range, according to Debbie Monterrey-Millet, press secretary to McCallum. 




\We are taking prudent and significant action now, but this is only the first step toward broader reductions that will be addressed in legislation currently under consideration,"" McCallum said in a prepared statement. He blamed the deficit on the economic slowdown exacerbated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 




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Charlie Hoslet, special assistant to UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley, said the current round of budget cuts will require the UW System to slice $4.2 million from its budget. The cuts exempt student services, academic programs and research, but Hoslet warned that further budget cuts would force the university to trim expenses in those areas as well. 




""As the state looks for ways to close the budget deficit ... it's entirely possible that at some point those things will be affected,"" Hoslet said. 




He said cost savings will be realized by ""delaying things like equipment purchases, not hiring as quickly as we might  




otherwise have."" 




""We wouldn't go in and say we'll cut a position in cross-college advising,"" he added as an example of a student service that would not experience such delays. 




UW System officials have yet to determine how the $4.2 million cut will be distributed among UW campuses, Hoslet said. 




Monterrey-Millet said the governor has made education funding one of his top priorities during the state's budget crisis. 




""The university has probably done better than just about any agency or any organization that gets state money,"" she said. ""They got all kinds of money in the budget, plus they are exempt from these cuts."" 




""There's a lot of agreement in the state Legislature that the University of Wisconsin System is extremely important,"" she added. 




Besides excluding UW System research and instruction, the budget cuts will also not affect public health and safety funding, the SeniorCare prescription drug program and K-12 education funding. 




The 3.5 percent cut is in addition to a 5 percent across-the-board spending cut in the $46 billion biennial budget passed in August and is only the latest attempt by McCallum to deal with the state's revenue shortfall. Last month, McCallum announced a hiring freeze for most state agencies that aimed to save $10 million. 




A special session of the Legislature will probably be called in January to deal with the bulk of the state's deficit, Monterrey-Millet said. At that time, legislators should have firmer information about how deep the state's budget problem runs. 




""The governor is basically doing everything he can with his executive powers,"" she said.

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