Senator Chris Larson said that he is fairly confident that the cuts to the UW System will be under $300 million during a town hall meeting in the Urban Ecology Center yesterday afternoon.
He said that from talks around legislature, along with last week’s comments by UW System President Ray Cross, he thinks the proposed cuts will not stand.
“There’s enough senators and representatives who either represent universities directly, or people who went to them, and they know that can’t sustain these cuts and come back and get reelected,” Larson said.
He said that a of the few past budgets have been hurting both K-12 and higher education. He said even if the Joint Finance Committee redacts from the proposal of $300 million, the university system’s budget will still be unbalanced.
“It’s really not level,” Larson said. “The only thing the university can be sure of is it can’t be sure of what’s coming from the state because that’s just been diminishing year, after year.”.
Larson also said that he does not agree with public authority overall, especially with the combination of the budget.
“I think it should be a policy item that we should debate, instead of throwing it into a huge budget,” he said.
Representative Jonathan Brostoff said that even though UW-Milwaukee is a large part of his district, he has been advocating against the cuts for every UW school.
“I think that we should have a united front for now,” Brostoff said.
He said that schools should not speculate which other schools within the UW System could sustain harsher cuts.
“When times are good we can have these arguments, but right now everything is on fire and we have to say that we don’t want any cuts to any of the UW schools,” Brostoff said.
Larson said that his concern for the budget as a whole is there is not long term vision.
“We’re spending $70 billion as a state and we don’t have a clear vision of where that’s going to lead us. It’s reactionary, it’s not giving funds to people who need it, and it’s giving funds away to the largest donors of this governor,” Larson told the UWM Post.
The senator said that he has hope because he thinks the governor is open to change in the budget he proposed in early February.
“The governor’s not selling his own budget,” Larson said. “If you wanted a budget to pass… you’d sell to a person, to the legislature. Are you hearing that from this governor on any of this stuff? He’s not even defending his own budget on a lot of this stuff.”
Another concern that the two legislators, along with Milwaukee Ald. Nik Kovac discussed was how to keep the Bucks in town without heavily subsidizing a new arena.
“We don’t want to lose them, but we don’t want to just give the store away,” Larson said.
The three also talked about the importance of fixing side streets before spending billions on freeway expansions, along with promoting a Badgercare expansion.
Photo by John J. Ward