The University of Wisconsin System will freeze its tuition rates and receive up to an additional $57.7 million in taxpayer money over the next two years, the Journal Sentinel reported.
The funding allocation and the tuition freeze, determined in a vote on Tuesday by the Legislature’s budget committee which is controlled by Republicans, has left Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers and the University of Wisconsin System’s president Ray Cross fuming.
Gov. Evers asked the legislature for $50.4 million to pay for the tuition freeze, a request rejected by Republican lawmakers, according to the Star Tribune. The freeze on tuition rates in state institutions is now in its sixth year.
Evers also sought an increase of $127 million in state funding to the university system to help deal with budget cuts under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and to focus on high-need areas like nursing and tech jobs. However, the committee ended up approving less than half of the desired amount.
“It’s beyond disappointing,” state Rep. Chris Taylor told Republicans in response to the approved budget. “It’s perplexing. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s negligent. And what you’re guaranteeing is that campuses will close.”
According to the Associated Press, the budget committee also rejected Evers’ request of $55 million in funding to attract and retain students in high-demand fields, as well as to establish fellowships and loan programs for nursing students.
Cross said that the budget proposed by the university system was “reasonable” and “specific.” He also characterized the approved budget as “shortsighted” and a “missed opportunity.”
“We need at least $60 million to keep up with inflation alone; the motion would provide $45 million with significant strings attached,” Cross said in a statement.
“By not addressing these financial challenges, we are severely hamstrung in our ability to continue to grow vital programs and high-need fields that the people of Wisconsin expect and demand,” he added.