UW System President Kevin Reilly said the additional $65.7 million cuts in funding to the university from the state is disproportionate to total statewide cuts Friday.
Administration officials announced Oct. 14 that they plan to cut $174.3 more in statewide funding over the next biennium because of a budget lapse. Cuts to the UW System make up 38 percent of the lapse.
“The use of a lapse is not a surprise,” Reilly wrote in an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “What is surprising, however, is the apparent reliance on the UW System to balance the state budget. Unfortunately, our students will suffer the unintended consequences of this approach.”
Reilly said the timing of the lapse makes it difficult for the system to determine where to make the cuts. He said the system had already made budget allocations by the time the cuts were made mid-semester.
“Students paid their tuition bills, came to campus and began working hard toward their college dreams,” Reilly said.
“It’s our obligation to deliver a high-quality educational experience, but oversized funding cuts make it difficult to fulfill those promises.”
In a letter to state Budget Director Brian Hayes sent last Wednesday, UW System Associate Vice President of Budget and Planning Freda Harris suggested the state lessen cuts to the UW System.
Even if the state were to make Harris's recommended alterations to the lapse, the UW System would still absorb 11 percent of the $174 million cut.
Reilly said UW System leaders are addressing the lapses by engaging in dialogues with state leaders and “reiterating the UW System’s role as an economic engine, and asking leaders to develop a fairer plan.”
“There is still time to reconsider the methodology behind this midyear budget lapse and redress its inequities,” Reilly said. “By doing so, state leaders can send a message to all UW students and their families that higher education is a higher priority in Wisconsin.”