Cuts to UW system could impact Madison College students

Marisa Comeau-Kerege, News Editor

Gov. Scott Walker proposed a biennial state budget in early February that called for large cuts to education.  So what does that mean for Madison College and our students?

From the governor’s desk, the proposed budget now goes to the state legislature.  The Joint Committee on Finance is currently holding public hearings before they make their final recommendations and adjustments to the budget.

As it stands now, the University of Wisconsin system is projected to get a $300 million budget cut.  This is about a 13 percent cut to the budget that excludes money allotted for financial aid, money from specific research grants or profits from university businesses that can’t be used to for other financial deficits.

The chancellor and president of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have accepted that budget cuts are going to happen but are trying to work with legislators and the Governor’s office to reduce the amount.

So what does this mean for our students?  Madison College’s Liberal Arts Transfer program is the largest program with the highest enrollment and many students transferring into the University of Wisconsin system.

Tim Casper, the Senior Executive and Special Assistant to the Madison College President, explained what our students can expect when transferring with the current budget cuts.

“As we understand it, the University of Wisconsin-Madison specifically will still have capacity in its classes for students at the 300 and 400 level,” said Casper.  “So if you’ve completed your Associate’s degree here and transferred to UW Madison you should not have any real difficulty in getting the courses that you want.  If you were to transfer and were allowed in to the university after maybe say a semester of studies here, so let’s say you have 12 to 15 credits, there may be difficulties accessing courses at the 100 and 200 levels.”

It is unknown yet whether or not the legislature will modify the budget cuts to the technical college system.  The budget will go into effect July 1.

As of July 1, 2014, the Wisconsin Technical College System, however, was put at higher risk for financial cuts when the main source of its funding was shifted.  In previous years, about 62 percent of our budget came from property taxes, a generally stable source of income.  With the shift, in this fiscal year about 48-49 percent of our budget now comes from the state of Wisconsin.  So what does that mean for our financial stability?

“In the future, as the state of Wisconsin and future governors and legislatures determine every two years how to balance the state’s budget we, the Wisconsin Technical College System, are a much larger portion of how they go about fixing the budget,” said Casper.  “So if the state’s economy takes a downturn, for example, and legislators and governors decide to reduce funding in order to come into compliance with the revenue they project to receive, that may negatively affect the college.”

So until the Joint Committee on Finance determines their final modifications to the budget, we won’t know whether or not Madison College’s budget will get its turn on the chopping block.  But for those students transferring into the UW system, be sure to talk to advisors and make sure that your credits and classes will transfer and likely be available at the university.