MADISON, WI (AP) -

The leader of the Wisconsin Assembly says University of Wisconsin System regents need to protect taxpayers' money.

Rep. Robin Vos, a Burlington Republican, was part of a panel of legislators and system officials that gathered to discuss how to improve relationships between lawmakers and the system as the regents begin to search for a new system president.

Vos said the regents need to be less of a cheerleader for the system and more of a watchdog for taxpayers, saying too many students are taking too long to graduate and are running up tremendous debt.

Republicans have heaped criticism on the system after news broke earlier this spring that UW had built a $650 million budget surplus that included $414 million in tuition. President Kevin Reilly announced his resignation in July.