UWSP Chancellor, Shankland react to state Joint Finance Committee vote
For the City Times
STEVENS POINT — Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) and UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson issued statements regarding actions taken by the Joint Finance Committee on May 28.
The committee cut Governor Tony Evers’ UW-System proposal by more than half. While tuition will remain frozen within the system, but legislators nixed Evers’ proposal that would help campuses recoup lost revenue.
Below are their released statements in full. We will update the story with more reactions from legislators as we have them.
Bernie Patterson’s Statement
“It was disheartening to see the Joint Committee on Finance forego an opportunity to make a real difference in higher education in Wisconsin.
The UW System budget request included capacity-building initiatives that would have allowed UW-Stevens Point to produce more graduates in paper science, chemical engineering, computing, aquaponics and aquaculture. It would have allowed UW-Stevens Point to pilot a program to complete a bachelor’s degree in just three years and to expand high-impact programs in internships and undergraduate research. It would have provided critical student support services on our branch campuses in Wausau and Marshfield, where the need is great.
UW-Stevens Point has been working to re-engineer our curriculum. To succeed, we must also be able to grow by offering programs our students expect and our state needs. We hope the Legislature will revisit this budget request, which provides real solutions to critical problems Wisconsin is facing.”
Rep. Katrina Shankland’s Statement
“For years, our UW System has been deliberately underfunded and neglected, and Governor Evers demonstrated great leadership by proposing an additional $150 million investment in public higher education. The people of Wisconsin were counting on that funding to invest in Wisconsin students’ futures. For every one dollar we invest in our UW System, there is a $23 return on an investment. That’s real money in our communities, from Main Street to the jobs on campus.
“That’s why I’m so disappointed that Republican legislators on the Joint Finance Committee voted to slash the governor’s UW budget in half. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, this is not even an inflationary increase. In my own community, we have seen significant challenges surrounding budget deficits, and we’re not alone. That increase in state funding would have meant jobs, economic security, and access to affordable higher education for thousands of people statewide.
“UW System President Ray Cross called the budget committee vote ‘a kick in the shins,’ and I couldn’t agree more. While other states are investing in higher education, Republicans on the budget committee couldn’t even commit to an inflationary increase for the colleges and universities that support Wisconsin students and the research that our farmers and other employers depend on.
“I am thankful to Governor Evers for his leadership in investing in the UW System, and I know he will keep pushing for funding the tuition freeze and investing in our UW System.”