In the 2021-2023 budget package presented by Governor Evers on Tuesday, an additional $ 191 million is allocated to the UW system – doubling the number requested by UW officials and marking the largest increase in state funding by nearly two decades.
The proposal comes after last week’s decision provide $ 69 million in funding to the UW system for various building and facility maintenance projects.
The plan, called “Badger Bounceback,” is also $ 40 million more than what the Evers government proposed for the UW system in its 2018-2020 program. budget.
The Badger Bounceback program would prioritize recovering from financial hardship due to COVID-19 and investing in accessible higher education.
“I am proud that our Badger Bounceback program has already received bipartisan support in many areas of critical importance,” Governor Evers said in a statement. Release. “As I said in my budget speech, I know we can spend within our means while passing a budget with bipartisan support that will ensure our state can bounce back from this crisis and better than before.”
The plan would also provide funding increases for need-based financial aid programs statewide, including $ 40 million to expand Bucky’s education promise to all UW campuses over the years. next two years. Bucky’s education promise offers subsidized tuition and separate fees for students with an adjusted household income of less than $ 60,000.
The budget increases would also expand Wisconsin’s grant program by $ 34 million, or 10 percent each year under the plan.
The UW system tuition freeze would continue for another two years under Badger Bounceback, although UW-Madison predicted a loss of $ 320 million alone until the end of this exercise. UW System interim president Tommy Thompson called for a tuition hike earlier this year, but was told that would not be allowed to offset the losses.
Instead, Badger Bounceback gives the UW Board of Regents the power to borrow money from credit markets during times of economic hardship, like the COVID-19 pandemic. To compensate for the loss of additional income due to the tuition freeze which is now in its eighth and ninth year, the budget proposes to provide general funding of $ 50 million to the UW system.
“One thing we can agree on is the continued freeze on UW tuition fees,” Senator Chris Kapenga said in a statement. Release.
The governor’s plan would also prioritize $ 10 million in funding for mental and behavioral health services for students. It would demand a bill of rights for student loan borrowers who, among other things, things, would require student loan companies to provide accurate and timely information to borrowers in the event of a loan default.
“The budget shows that the governor recognizes the value [the UW System] can deliver to all Wisconsinites, as we did during the COVID-19 pandemic, ”Tommy Thompson, president of interem UW System, said in a statement. Release. “Where there is a problem, UW wants to help – and the governor’s budget will allow us to do just that on some of Wisconsin’s most difficult problems.”
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The budget request will then be considered by the state legislature’s joint finance committee, where it is expected to be amended by Republican scrutiny. legislature. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told a press conference after Evers’ speech on Tuesday that he expected the Assembly to start all over again – although some things, like the tuition fee freeze, will likely remain in place.
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