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Friday, February 23, 2024
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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos answers questions after Gov. Evers' State of the State address

Will UW-Madison get its engineering building? Vos open to deal but won’t commit to funding the project

At a press conference, Vos said he would move forward with engineering hall plans if he got an agreement on DEI programs and greater authority over UW System positions.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told reporters Tuesday he would like to find a way to fund the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s engineering building but wants an agreement on DEI programs and greater authority over UW System positions. 

“The university unilaterally has entered over 1,700 positions even though we've had a steady or declining enrollment,” said Vos, R-Rochester. “I think part of the challenge that we see is an overinflated, bloated UW System, at the same time asking us for more money for a building.”

Vos suggested in October he wants to have future legislative oversight over UW System positions in exchange for approving a 6% raise over two years for UW System employees. 

In June, the Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget-writing committee killed $197 million in funding for a UW-Madison engineering building project approved by Gov. Tony Evers in the state’s 2023-25 capital budget.

The committee also cut $32 million from the UW System’s 2023-25 budget in June. University officials on Nov. 6 offered a plan to recoup the lost funds, but Vos has said lawmakers will not restore the money until UW schools cut diversity programs.

Democrats are propelling pushback to Vos’ attacks against the UW System. 

Rep. Francesa Hong and Sen. Kelda Roys, both of Madison, visited UW-Madison’sEngineering Hall on Nov. 8  to advocate for the economic benefits the project could have for Wisconsin.

“They’re holding hostage pay raises for these folks because [Vos] is currently more concerned with cutting programs that would include more diverse voices across all of our public system schools,” Hong said.

Vos told reporters Tuesday he is not concerned about losing engineers if UW-Madison’s engineering project remains unfunded this legislative session as UW-Platteville and UW-Whitewater have “spots for kids all over the country” to study engineering beyond UW-Madison. 

“I think many of us here went to other campuses, so to think that the only place to get a great engineering degree is by attending UW-Madison, it’s a fallacy,” he said.

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Ava Menkes

Ava Menkes is the state news editor at The Daily Cardinal. She has covered multiple stories about Wisconsin politics and written in-depth about nurses unions and youth voter turnout. Follow her on Twitter at @AvaMenkes.

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