Budget Cut to the UW Education System

Budget Cut to the UW Education System

Michael Horner-Ibler

In recent news, Gov. Scott Walker has been put under scrutiny because of his budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin-Madison education system. The 26 campuses and 180,000 students are due to receive a $300 million (13%) cut to the entire system between 2015 and 2017. Gov. Walker’s goal of this budget cut is to give the system more freedom with its choices. Walker’s $2 billion deficit in the budget is juxtaposed with his probable run for president in 2016. In his opinion, the increased freedom will allow the system to absorb the massive cut. In exchange for radical cuts, his intentions were to give unions more freedom; however this was quite hotly contested in the past.

After comparing these 100,000 protesters of 2011 to Islamic State terrorists in a recent speech at CPAC, more questions have been raised about his intents to “better” the state as a whole. The Wisconsin legislature has also put a freeze on state tuitions for two more years; even as the budget gets tighter, the schools are not allowed to raise tuition to cover the costs.

With a budget cut of this size, the burden will be borne by the employees; why would a company cut its best assets when it is performing at its peak?  It is simply too much and too fast for the education system and the state economy. Walker’s budget is based around his [empty] promise to lower property taxes. The value of a $150,000 home will only decrease by about $5. The UW system, as a $5.6 billion enterprise, is a large part of the statewide economy, and its schools forced to deplete their already dwindling reserves because of tuition freezes and budget cuts, surely making the economy suffer.

UW Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank recently stipulated that the cuts would force layoffs, tuition hikes for out-of-state students, and push frustrated staff away. On campuses around the state, forums are being held to discuss the effects of the cuts on each school.

There is an equitable connection between Walker’s budget cuts and the growing differences within the public and private school voucher systems. One of the most important things our society has done is create public education: it has brought the social classes and social gaps closer together, meaning everyone has a chance to live the “American dream”. If a public institution is made to act like a private institution, the whole social structure could be put into jeopardy. And for a governor who is trying to promote the private sector job growth, it should be clear that cutting public sector jobs will not equal a growth in the private sector area.

In the future, I foresee the whole UW System declining in quality, potentially hurting the state’s future economy and desire for education. As a soon-to-be Badger looking into the private sector, I want to be able to be a competitive candidate with my peers at Cal-Berkeley and Michigan Ann Arbor, not at Ole Miss or Arkansas.