UWS Community Voices Frustration, Concern over Proposed Cuts

Heidi Enninga
February 16, 2015 10:32 PM

Governor Scott Walker's proposed budget would cut about $2.3 million from UW-Superior's funding next year. The likely 2016 presidential candidate said it's necessary to help fix a more than $2 billion budget deficit, but concerned citizens want UWS off the chopping block.

University leaders and local lawmakers Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, and Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range heard from about 100 gathered at the university Monday night for a forum on the issue. 

Joe Stensland, an alumnus of UWS asked Bewley and Milroy to listen to concerns about Governor Walker's controversial cut. 

"This $300 million is in the form of a missle, and it is coming to this city." Stensland said. "It is coming in a way that you are going to feel it more than ever."

Under Walker's proposal, UWS would see the $2.3 million cut in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. That reduction would be about 10 percent of this year's budget. Superior is the smallest four-year campus in the UW system and its cut is also the smallest among the system's 13 four-year campuses. 

Already, UWS has imposed deep cuts to some services and programs, and some community members say any further cuts would jeopardize a campus that supports an entire region in northern Wisconsin, financially and otherwise. 

"That outcome will be one that affects our state and our region for years to come, and it is very serious," "I passionately believe that the university system of which we are a part is on one of the state's brightest assets and this institution in particular, I think is the jewel in that crown." 

"This campus has more support from the public than any other campus in the system, and you shouldn't destroy that," William Swenson, a retired UWS employee said. 

Bewley said the budget proposal will have to pass the review of committee as well as get the vote from Wisconsin legislators before the Governor can sign a bill into law, but before that happens, she wants to hear from Wisconsinites. 

"You are the beginning of a long process," Bewley said. 

Others said the governor's cuts are a short term fix with long-term consequences, citing higher education as a building block for a robust middle class. 

"I would like to think that we are part of the solution for the economic recovery, not part of the problem," Haji Dokhanchi, a professor at UWS said. 

"We need our state to view us as an investment, not wasteful spending," student Kara Schmidt said. 

Neither Milroy nor Bewley - both democrats - expressed support for the republican governor's proposal.

We plead with you to contact the governor and the members of the legislature that will be working on this bill over the next couple of months," Milroy said. "Together, hopefully we can make a difference."


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Heidi Enninga

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