Wisconsin Governor Evers has taken a firm stand against proposed budget cuts to the state university system’s diversity officers by declaring that he will veto the budget if Republican lawmakers proceed with the plan.
Wisconsin Governor Evers Takes Stand
Wisconsin Governor Evers has declared his intention to veto the state budget if Republican lawmakers proceed with their plan to slash funding for diversity officers in the state university system, CBS News reported.
The dispute over funding for diversity initiatives has intensified, sparking a bitter battle between the parties involved.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recently announced his intention to cut $32 million from the University of Wisconsin (UW) System’s budget for the 2023-2025 fiscal period, asserting that it aligns with the amount allocated to diversity officers.
During a news conference, Vos criticized diversity efforts, claiming they have become the “new religion” of liberals and arguing against the use of tax dollars to support them.
Wisconsin Governor Evers, a Democrat, and former University of Wisconsin (UW) regent, strongly opposes the proposed cut, labeling it “disastrous” for the UW System. He expressed his reluctance to sign the budget if Republicans proceed with the plan during a visit to a cheese manufacturer in Monroe.
Wisconsin Governor Evers criticized the idea of reducing funding for the university system, particularly when the state has a surplus of $7 billion, deeming it “irrational” and “ridiculous.”
Speaker Vos remains unconcerned, believing that Wisconsin Governor Evers would not veto the entire budget over a single issue. Vos suggested that if such action were taken, Republicans would begin crafting a new spending plan in October, compelling the governor to explain the prolonged absence of new funding.
While tensions between the Republican-controlled Legislature and the state university system are not unprecedented, this year’s conflict revolves around free speech, diversity, and the University of Wisconsin (UW) efforts to promote racial equity.
Wisconsin Governor Evers Proposal
The Republican-controlled finance committee in the Legislature is currently revising Wisconsin Governor Evers’ executive budget before forwarding it to the full Assembly and Senate for approval.
If passed, the spending plan would then be sent to Governor Evers, who would have the option to sign it into law, use partial veto powers to revise significant portions or veto it entirely.
The University of Wisconsin (UW) regents had made a formal request for an extra $435.6 million in funding for the next two-year budget.
On the other hand, Wisconsin Governor Evers’ proposal recommended allocating approximately $305.9 million in fresh funding for the system. Additionally, the finance committee has already turned down plans to build a new engineering facility on the UW-Madison campus earlier this month.
If the committee cuts $32 million from the system, the regents would face a shortfall of approximately $500 million from their stated needs.
This situation could result in further tuition increases as the system strives to compensate for the deficit. In March, the regents approved tuition, fee, and room and board rate hikes after Evers’ budget fell $130 million short of their requested target.
The timeline for when the finance committee will address the UW System’s budget remains uncertain. While originally scheduled for a vote on Tuesday evening, the committee chose to postpone the decision indefinitely.