The Legislative Affairs Committee began the semester Monday discussing the upcoming budget and its suggested effects to the UW system’s funding along with rumors of UW-Madison becoming a public entity.
Although concerns about system changes branch purely from speculation until Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal is revealed Feb. 3, the Committee expressed fears of a system-wide base budget reduction of $150 million.
The Committee voiced particular concern with the possible flexibilities the UW System would be granted if it became a public entity, especially shared governance flexibility. This would limit the amount of shared governance on campus in the interest of project timeliness, like in construction, Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Tom Gierok said.
Committee members say a cut in shared governance would reduce student influence in college affairs.
“It would take away a lot of our voice,” Finance Committee Chair Madison Laning said.
The Committee also discussed an upcoming bill that would change how segregated fees are approved. Currently, students are free to choose how segregated fees are allocated without approval by the Chancellor.
Sen. Rick Gudex, R-Fon du Lac, will introduce a bill at the end of the week aiming to amend how this process works, Gierok said. It is mainly intended to give the Chancellor final approval over the budget.
Gierok said the Committee will reconvene on the issue and talk about further action.
Shared Governance Committee Chair Morgan Rae ended the meeting with plans to reintroduce the Responsible Action Bill, which aims to spread campus drinking guidelines to off-campus areas.
The bill would offer immunity to people involved in alcohol-related emergencies to encourage health and safety, Rae said.
Rae has worked on writing and gaining momentum for the bill since 2012 but has encountered problems with conflicting state law.
The bill was introduced last session in the assembly and the senate but was not taken any further. The bill is projected to be reintroduced in late summer, but Rae said she hopes it is sooner.
“We have a meeting with [Rep.] Ballweg, we’re going to try getting the language of this bill with all the amendments in it as soon as we can,” Rae said.