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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and other Republicans on the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee gathered in the Capitol's Senate Parlor Room for a press conference after Gov. Tony Evers' budget address on Feb. 15, 2022. Republicans decried Evers' budget as a "liberal wishlist."

Wisconsin lawmakers approve pay raises for UW System employees

A Republican-led state committee approved wage increases for University of Wisconsin System employees Tuesday after withholding funding for several months.

The Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) approved pay raises for University of Wisconsin System employees in a 5-1 vote Tuesday.

The approval will provide pay raises to over 35,000 UW System employees and raise base salaries by 4% this year, followed by a 2% increase next July.

The approval is part of a controversial deal between Republican lawmakers and the UW Board of Regents to restructure diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) positions in exchange for funding for UW System employee pay raises and multiple building projects.

“By attacking these [DEI] initiatives, Republicans are pursuing an agenda that negatively impacts students of color, low-income students, students in the military, students with disabilities, students who are returning to college after the loss of a loved one or the birth of a child, first-generation college students and so many others,” said Sen. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Madison. 

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers sued legislative Republicans in October for withholding UW System pay raises, arguing the move violated the state constitution by intruding on executive powers.

“Republican legislators are unconstitutionally obstructing basic functions of government — actions that have not only aimed to prevent state government from efficiently and effectively serving the people of our state but are now actively harming tens of thousands of Wisconsinites every day across our state,” Evers said in a press release. 

Senate President and committee co-chair Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, was the only committee member to vote against the wage increase.

Kapenga told CBS58 that unconfirmed, Evers-appointed UW Regents could lose their jobs “as soon as January.” 

Amy Bogost, John Miller, Dana Wachs and Ashok Rai are four Evers appointees who have not been confirmed by the Senate. Rai was the only regent to vote for the deal. 

“We are not done yet,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester said. “I have faith that legislative Republicans will begin a much-needed, long-term, in-depth review of every part of DEI in state government.”

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