Shankland, Democrats blast Walker's UW System funding cuts
By Larry Lee, WSAU Radio
 
MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- Several Democrats are blasting Governor Scott Walker’s UW System funding cuts.
 
One of them is Representative Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point.   “We’ve already seen 250 million dollars cut from the state budget for UW in the past two years. Now the Governor is proposing an additional 300 million dollar funding cut over the next few years? There’s simply not enough to cut, and there will be nothing left if they continue to cut and chip away at our UW.”
 
Shankland believes the University of Wisconsin campuses, like the one in Stevens Point, are a key economic driver in their communities while training the next generation of workers. That’s why she opposes cutting UW funding.  “I really think it’s time to strengthen our communities. We should be making public education a priority. I’m deeply disappointed that the Governor is looking at taking away funding from the UW.”
 
The UW System was heavily criticized two years ago for having a large cash reserve while seeking additional dollars and considering tuition hikes. Shankland says forcing campuses to spend the cash reserves was wrong.  “If you look at the businesses that keep cash reserves to sustain any kind of economic headwinds, that’s what the UW is doing as well. If you look at individual campuses, they actually had well below the recommended cash reserves to keep on hand, so I think that that was a red herring, and now that the UW was forced to spend down that money, those cash reserves, these cuts are going to hit even harder.”
 
While the Governor has hinted what may be in the budget for college education, Shankland is hoping the new budget brings much needed help to struggling K-through-12 schools.  “Especially in rural areas, our public schools are starving. We absolutely need to recommit to our public education. They are the cornerstone of our communities. In our last budget, Governor Walker barely gave the public schools peanuts, and the budget before that under Governor Walker, there was a massive cut to public education.”
 
Walker is proposing a 300-million dollar cut to the University of Wisconsin System while giving the university something it has wanted for a long time: More autonomy to make operational decisions without the Legislature’s oversight.
 
Shankland is concerned that cuts to the UW System may create shortages of certain classes, causing some students to stay an extra semester for a class or two... which would be very expensive.
 
To listen to Rep. Shankland's interview, click here