Statement by Chancellor Ward on governor's modified budget recommendation

May 21, 2013

It is likely that you have heard the news of the governor’s revised budget proposal that includes a two-year freeze on UW System tuition and reduces the amount of additional funding provided to the system in the 2013-15 biennial budget.

Photo: David Ward

David Ward

A memo from the state’s Department of Administration, known as an errata letter, outlines the modifications to Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal for the UW System. In light of cash balances accrued in many accounts across the system, the governor is recommending, in addition to a tuition freeze, a reduction in new state support for the system from $181 million to $87 million.  The Governor and the legislature’s call for a tuition freeze is understandable given the difficult fiscal situation faced by many students and their families, and we are still determining what fiscal impact the other changes outlined in the errata letter will have on our campus.

Clearly this outcome is disappointing, but not unexpected. We anticipated that there would be some ramifications following the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s recent report regarding fund balances at University of Wisconsin System schools, including our campus. We will manage this challenge by reducing our cash balances to cover the expenses that will not be covered by the state. We are hopeful that the governor’s remaining funding recommendation for our campus and the UW System will remain intact. That funding is vitally important to maintaining the ongoing obligations we incur in pursuing our research and academic missions.

UW–Madison also is working along with the UW System and the Board of Regents to develop a set of rigorous policies that will determine the appropriate levels of fund balances, how they are reported and how they can be spent.  It is my hope that going forward these guidelines will provide greater transparency and give legislators a clear assessment of the system’s fiscal health. We will continue to work with the governor and the legislature to ensure that our priorities are aligned.