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UW officials: Reserve will grow to $1.2 billion

UW officials: Reserve will grow to $1.2 billion

University of Wisconsin System officials are telling legislators they expect to have $1.2 billion in reserve by the end of June.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/160KvwF) system President Kevin Reilly and regents Michael Falbo and Regina Millner met privately with Senate Republicans on Tuesday and Assembly Republicans on Wednesday.

They told Assembly Republicans the system had nearly $1.7 billion in reserve at the end of March and expects to have $1.2 billion on June 30.

An analysis last month showed the system had $1.04 billion in reserve as of mid-2012, including $648 million in unrestricted money. Republicans have criticized the system's annual tuition increases in light of the reserves. They have pledged to freeze tuition in the upcoming state budget.

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4/26

Public school advocates are hopeful they may get more money from the state after Gov. Scott Walker floated the possibility of diverting funding he originally proposed for the University of Wisconsin System.

Walker said Thursday he may take some of the $181 million he originally earmarked for UW and instead use it for school aids. The switch comes in light of UW having $650 million in reserves.

Republican Sen. Luther Olsen is chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a member of the Legislature's budget committee. He says UW should tap its reserves and the money Walker proposed for them should instead go to schools.

Wisconsin Association of School Boards lobbyist Dan Rossmiller says the money should pay for raising revenue limits to allow schools to spend more.

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6:00am

Governor Scott Walker is beginning to hedge on his initial proposal to boost the University of Wisconsin System's budget.

He says most of that money may be redirected to pay for a tuition freeze or to boost funding for public schools.

Walker had proposed that UW get a $181 million spending increase over the next two years.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told The Associated Press Thursday that he doesn't think UW should get the spending increase.

Later Thursday, Walker backed off the full $181 million but said he wants to try to keep a $20 million increase allocated for economic development.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo on Friday showing the system finished the year with a nearly $650 million surplus.

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4/25

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is breaking with Gov. Scott Walker over funding for the University of Wisconsin System.

Fitzgerald told The Associated Press on Thursday that he doesn't think UW should get a $181 million spending increase over the next two years as Walker has proposed. It was revealed last week that UW has a nearly $650 million surplus.

Fitzgerald was on his way to a meeting with Walker's deputy chief of staff to discuss the issue.

Walker has said he is committed to that spending increase for UW because it helps economic development. But Walker, along with Fitzgerald and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, is calling for a two-year tuition freeze at UW.

Walker plans to revise his budget proposal for UW next week.

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4/24

Wisconsin Democrats are joining their rival Republicans' call for University of Wisconsin System officials to freeze tuition in light of the system's massive tuition surplus.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo released last week shows the system finished the 2012 fiscal year with nearly $650 million in reserves, including $414 million in surplus tuition dollars. Republicans are questioning how the Board of Regents could justify raising tuition for six straight years when the system is so flush with cash.

Republicans have vowed to freeze tuition in the upcoming state budget. Democratic legislative leaders, typically among the system's staunchest supports, wrote a letter to system President Kevin Reilly on Wednesday the surplus unjustifiable and calling on the regents to immediately freeze tuition for two years.

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11:53am

Gov. Scott Walker plans to ask the Legislature to freeze tuition at the University of Wisconsin in light of reports that UW has $650 million in reserves.

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said Wednesday the call for a tuition freeze and possibly other changes will be submitted to lawmakers in a week to 10 days.

The university has been the target of blistering criticism, primarily from Republican lawmakers, following the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo released Friday that detailed the reserve funds.

UW President Kevin Reilly defended the university during a hearing Tuesday before legislative leaders, saying the reserves were built up to protect themselves as state funding dwindles. He also acknowledged that anger over the accumulated money was, in many ways, justified.

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10:00am

Governor Scott Walker plans to ask the Legislature to make changes to his original budget proposal for the University of Wisconsin System, but he's not saying yet what they will be.

Walker's top aide Mike Huebsch sent lawmakers a letter Wednesday outlining a number of largely technical changes to Walker's two-year spending plan. But Huebsch says a second letter will be coming ``in the near future'' detailing changes to the UW budget.

Huebsch says those changes are necessary "in light of revelations'' about the UW's reserves.

A report released Friday showed UW had a nearly $650 million surplus. That has led to calls from Republican lawmakers to freeze tuition over the next two years.

Walker said Monday he supported freezing tuition, but wouldn't cut his funding proposal.

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4/23

Republican legislators are giving University of Wisconsin System officials a tongue-lashing over a report that shows the system has squirreled away a massive tuition surplus while raising students' rates for years.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a report Friday that showed the system had a $648 million surplus as of the end of June, including $414. 1 million in tuition.

Republicans on the Legislature's employment relations committee told system President Kevin Reilly during a hearing Tuesday they're shocked. Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills accused Reilly and system officials of scheming to hide the surpluses from the public. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Burlington said the entire state is outraged at the system.

Reilly responded the surpluses serve as a safety net as state aid for the system dwindles.

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4/22

UW President Kevin Reilly is a “fraud,” according state Representative Steve Nass.

The Whitewater Republican chairs the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, "At the same time the legislature is trying to hold down tuition, he's traveling around the state bashing legislators about how cuts to the UW System will destroy it. He used very harsh language while doing that. At the same time he's sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition money taken from students."

Nass is calling for the firing of Reilly after the disclosure late last week that the UW has a nearly $650 million surplus account (see below).

Fellow Republican Glenn Grothman, a state Senator from West Bend, won’t go as far as calling for Reilly’s “head,” but says he’s outraged the University President has been pushing for a tuition hike, "For Kevin Reilly to respond to this huge surplus by calling for more tuition increases, shows that he's the completely insensitive sort of administrator who is driving students into debt well into their 40's and maybe 50's."

A UW spokesman issued a statement called the surplus an “essential safety net,” but Governor Walker and majority Republicans don’t agree and are calling for a tuition freeze for the next two years.

They’re joined by Racine Democrat Cory Mason, who’s a member of the Legislature’s Budget Committee.

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4/19

A new Legislative Fiscal Bureau report shows the University of Wisconsin System finished fiscal year 2012 with nearly $650 million sitting in reserve, including $414.1 million in surplus tuition dollars.

The bureau released a memo Friday saying the tuition surplus was $212.8 million as of mid-2009 and $393 million as of mid-2011. Base tuition across the system's four-year schools has gone up 5.5 percent annually between mid-2009 and mid-2012.

Republican legislative leaders issued a statement blasting system administrators. They questioned how the system could justify raising tuition in light of the surplus and vowed to include a two-year freeze on tuition in the 2013-15 state budget.

A system spokesman didn't immediately return a message.

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4/19

The University of Wisconsin System's president says he thinks he can limit tuition increases over the next two years.

Gov. Scott Walker's 2013-2015 budget would provide the system with an additional $181.3 million dollars. System President Kevin Reilly said Friday that would enable him to recommend the Board of Regents limit tuition increases to 2 percent annually.

Base tuition across the system's four-year schools has risen 5.5 percent annually since the 2007-08 academic year. Increases have been steeper at schools that place additional tuition charges on students.

Reilly also announced he'll recommend reallocating $30 million to eliminate a waiting list for financial aid and offer more work-study positions. He also wants to invest $10 million in a program awarding credit for students' work experience and other knowledge they've already acquired.

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4/12

UW students would enjoy a tuition freeze over the next two years, under a proposal in the state Legislature.

It’s authored by Whitewater Republican Steve Nass, "It really is bread and butter for moms and dads out there. This is a middle class issue. They are going to need help in paying for college in the future."

State Senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend says it’s a big issue, with Rebecca Blank coming on board as Chancellor of the Madison campus, "Well given her eagerness to raise tuition, and particularly to raise tuition on business students and students from families that apparently have more than average income, I think it's important that the legislature step up and put a tuition freeze on."

A 5.5% tuition cap that has been in place the past two years expires July 1st.

 

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