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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The view of the Wisconsin State Capitol on King Street in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin lawmakers release $32 million to UW System for workforce programs

The Legislature’s budget-writing committee voted Thursday to release money to the UW System from a December deal.

Lawmakers on the Wisconsin Legislature's budget-writing committee voted to release $32 million to University of Wisconsin System Thursday as part of a previous deal to restructure diversity positions in exchange for pay raises and building projects.

With the funding, the UW System will develop workforce needs by expanding training in engineering, nursing, data scientists and business, among other programs. UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee will receive $2.5 million each, while the other 11 four-year UW campuses will receive $1 million annually for the biennium.

“This plan is exactly what the Legislature is looking for — a concentrated emphasis on adding more graduates to the workforce in key areas,” UW System President Jay Rothman said in a press release last November.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in May the $32 million would be withheld until the UW System eliminated diversity, equity and inclusion programs. Vos told reporters he also wanted future legislative oversight of U\W System positions in October 2023.

The deal was made largely behind closed doors between Rothman, Vos and UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin. Some Democratic lawmakers, students and faculty said they were surprised by the bill and lack of public input.

The UW Board of Regents passed this resolution in an 11-6 vote in December after initially rejecting it 9-8 five days prior.

The Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) fulfilled part of the deal in December when lawmakers approved pay raises for over 35,000 UW System employees. 

Additionally, lawmakers authorized funding for systemwide building projects, including a new engineering building at UW-Madison. The total cost of all the projects comes out to roughly $700 million. 

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Mary Bosch

Mary Bosch is the Photo Editor for The Daily Cardinal and a first year Journalism student. She has also written campus, state and city news. Follow her on twitter: @Mary_Bosch6

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