LA CROSSE, Wis. - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is calling for a change to his original UW-System budget.
It comes as a result of a report that the system had millions of dollars of surplus in the 2012 budget.
The governor's office sent a letter to the Joint Finance Committee asking that the proposed 2013-2015 budget be changed to set aside less money for the UW-System, almost $100 million less.
It's also asking that a two-year tuition freeze be put in place.
As you can imagine, it's welcome news for students, but university administration says it could cause some problems down the road.20183660
There's plenty on UW-L Student Association President Nick Bezier's mind, like finishing a final paper by the end of the day.
But one thing he can take off the list of stress is how he'll handle another tuition increase.
"It is a big relief for the past five years we've had 5.5 percent tuition increases," said Bezier.
That's because Governor Walker is changing his 2013-2015 UW-System Budget proposal.
Instead of the option for a tuition increase, he's calling for a two-year freeze.
And instead of $181-million in UW-System funds, he's cutting it down to $87-million.
"I think because of the controversy over the reserves he's reconsidering that view I think that's unfortunate," said UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow.
Gow said his main concern with these changes is how to keep employee pay competitive to other colleges.
Professors at the university haven't seen a pay raise in five years.
"It looks like we'll be forced to tap into reserve monies that are designed for other things. Pay them one time in this biennium and then in the 2015-2017 biennium we're in a very serious situation," said Gow.
And while Bezier agrees the funding decrease could create some challenges in the future, he said there's no doubt students can now breath a little easier.
"Student loan debt is now over a trillion dollars, so anything we can save on the tuition end is really something we're happy about," said Bezier.
The University system has about a $650-million surplus.
Walker said with his new proposal, that fund would be lowered by more than $135-million.
The Joint Finance Committee has not yet decided when it will review Governor Walker's proposal, but it is expected to be discussed by the end of May.
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