State representatives engage campus in budget forum

Van Vleck Hall played host to a session where community members could give thoughts on the proposed state budget. 

Van Vleck Hall played host to a session where community members could give thoughts on the proposed state budget. 

Image By: Niamh Rahman

The campus community explained their concerns about Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts to the UW System at a forum Thursday at Van Vleck Hall.

State Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, and state Reps. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, Terese Berceau, D-Madison, and Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, came to campus to gauge opinions toward the proposed UW System cuts and autonomy measures.

Taylor started with a presentation on the multiple facets of the budget and their predicted implications. She then turned it over to the audience at large to hear the tangible fears of the cuts as they pertain to student life.

Michael Kissick, a faculty member in the medical physics program at UW-Madison, said he feared that the public does not understand the deep implications the cuts will have for teaching, salaries and faculty.

Terry Warfield, chair of the Department of Accounting and Information Systems at the UW-Madison Business school, also echoed Kissick’s statements. He worries the cuts are at odds with the educational mission.

“Students are going to graduate with a lower quality degree,” Warfield said.”It will take them longer to graduate and I think many here are aware of the student debt issue that is front and center nationally and within the state, and all that’s going to do is make that worse.”

Risser also stressed a point of the budget he said gets much less scrutiny: the public authority model proposed for the UW System. He acknowledged the potential long-term advantages but shared his concerns for the precedent the proposal sets.

“Becoming a public authority is the first step towards privatizing higher education,” Risser said.

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