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Thompson says "enough" to UW budget cuts

By Benjamin Yount

Center Square News Service

MADISON - A former governor is hoping the current gover is listening.

Tommy Thompson, the new UW System president, saids the University of Wisconsin has seen more than its fair share of budget cuts.  And he is confident he can get the current governor, Tony Evers, to understand that. 

Thompson, who this month took over as UW System president, said on Wednesday (July 22) that he hopes to work with Governor Evers to spare the university from another round of state belt-tightening. 

"The UW System has already borne a disproportionate share of state cuts to date. I am working with the Governor’s office to manage these further cuts, as well as to secure the resources we need to ensure our classrooms and university communities are safe this fall," Thompson said. 

< Tommy Thompson (Ed Byrne/BN)

Earlier on Wednesday, Evers asked state agencies to find $250 million in new budget cuts. 

“All state and local governments are now experiencing the difficult balance of providing vital services to residents in crisis while also managing tough fiscal realities," Evers said in a public statement. "While I am still hopeful that the federal government will adopt further bipartisan proposals to stabilize funding for state and local services, in the face of continued inaction and uncertainty, the unfortunate reality is that we must take these steps and make more significant cuts."

The $250 million is on top of the $70 million that Evers asked to be cut earlier this year. 

The UW System is one of the largest parts of the state budget. Lawmakers sent the university more than a $1 billion a year, just part of the university's $6 billion budget. 

Thompson said the UW System has already paid a price for the coronavirus, losing nearly $160 million last spring, furloughing employees, and spending millions more to prepare campuses for the coronavirus. 

“Our universities are doing everything we can to provide in-person classes safely this fall and reductions in state support for the UW System are an obstacle to that work," Thompson said.

The UW System will get the lion's share of the nearly $175 million that Wisconsin's colleges and universities are getting from the federal government's CARES Act, though it is too soon to say just where that money will go or how it will be spent. 

Thompson said that despite the state's fiscal uncertainty, he is confident that the UW System could come out of this round of budget cuts unscathed. 

"We have a compelling case, and I believe the governor will be helpful," Thompson added. 


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