Governor Scott Walker Planning to Cut $300 Million in Funding for the University of Wisconsin…While Proposing $220 Million Investment for Milwaukee Bucks Arena

Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin)

Governor Scott Walker

By Elaine Magliaro

Governor Scott Walker–whom Charlie Pierce refers to as “the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin”–plans to unveil a budget on Tuesday evening that will reportedly “slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s public universities over the next two years.” Alice Ollstein of ThinkProgress said that students, professors and state lawmakers “are already blasting the plan — the deepest cut in state history…” They told ThinkProgress that they are “organizing to block its passage.”

Ollstein said that Governor Walker “told local right-wing radio host Charlie Sykes that his budget cuts over the past few years have created positive ‘efficiencies’ at the university…” Walker said, “Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work.”


At the same time, Walker is calling for a nearly $500 million new basketball stadium in Milwaukee for the Bucks. Under his plan, the state would take out $200 million in bonds to pay for the arena, and the county and city of Milwaukee would have to chip in as well. The team’s owner has promised some private funding, and Walker claims the taxes the NBA players will pay will make up the difference.

Last week, Governor Walker said his plan was a “common-sense, fiscally conservative approach.” He claimed “new growth in income tax revenue from Milwaukee Bucks players, employees and visiting teams” would “generate enough money to cover debt payments on $220 million in state-issued bonds for a new arena.” Walker reportedly called his plan a “Pay Their Way” proposal.

In a reaction to Governor Walker’s proposed budget, Chancellor Buck of the University of Wisconsin at Madison wrote that he was “concerned about the magnitude of the proposed budget cuts and their impact on UW-Madison.”

Chancellor Buck:

These proposed cuts are believed to be the largest in the history of the university. In the past, large cuts have always been mitigated by additional tuition revenue from resident and non-resident students.

The proposed cuts, on top of the reduction in the last state budget, would result in a more than 15 percent decrease in state funds to the university over a four- year period. Fully absorbing these cuts would have a harmful impact on our students and their educational experience.

Ollstein said that many university students and workers “are outraged that the Governor would propose increasing sports funding while telling universities to shoulder cuts by developing ‘efficiencies.’”

Eleni Schirmer, who is with the Teaching Assistants Association, said, “It shows a fair amount of ignorance about what happens at a university. He’s not telling the Bucks: ‘You should become an actually interesting team so people will watch your games.’”

According to Ollstein, Schirmer “noted that a loss of public funding for research has pushed the universities to lean more heavily towards corporate-sponsored projects.” Schirmer said, “It’s a threat to academic freedom. There’s an incentive to study what’s interesting and relevant to corporate interests, and what’s antagonistic or uninteresting to a corporate agenda will not be explored.”

The Gannett Central Wisconsin Media Editorial Board thinks that Walker’s proposed cuts to the university go too deep. With regard to economics, the board wrote “the more educated our workforce, the higher our state’s overall standard of living will be. And in all sorts of intangible ways the university system improves our quality of life — injecting culture into communities, offering broad-based liberal education, helping define our sense of Badger identity.” The board added that “Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed Draconian cuts to the system will undermine those values and hobble future economic growth.”

Gannett Central Wisconsin Media Editorial Board:

Walker compounded the sense that cuts are driven by political animus when, on Wednesday, he told a conservative radio host that faculty and staff should simply increase their workload to make up the difference. It was a condescending, somewhat nasty thing to say, and it was not based in fact. UW-Madison professors, a February study showed, work on average 63 hours a week; we see no reason to assume profs on stretched-thin regional campuses work less…

Taking a chainsaw to the UW budget now is no way to make smart, lasting reforms. Insulting UW faculty is no way to demonstrate an interest in positive reform.

And $300 million in new cuts is too much to swallow.

In a commentary published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday, members of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Faculty Senate Executive Committee said that news reports had confirmed  that the “UW System campuses are slated to take a combined $150 million base budget cut (over two years, so $300 million total) in his upcoming 2015-’17 biennial budget proposal.” The Journal Sentinel claimed that the numbers were “staggering.” This will reportedly be “the largest cut in the 45-year history of the system. For UW-Milwaukee, if previous formulas are used, the cut would be almost $20 million starting in July 2015, and continuing in the next year, resulting in a total of $40 million less revenue over the two-year budget.”

Excerpt from the commentary:

The governor’s proposal includes legislative changes that would create a new “public authority” to run the university system. The claim is that this structure will permit new efficiencies and flexibilities, yet there has been no study of this, no open discussion and there is no implementation plan for such sweeping changes. As it stands, the move to public authority is slated for 2017, a mere two years after $300 million in cuts to the system, at which point the new public authority may be allowed to raise tuition.

With the current proposal, the state is slated to degrade the quality of education for UW System students over the next two years, by destabilizing fragile institutions that already have been hit by over a decade of cuts. After that, without reasonable state support, tuition will either have to be raised significantly, or the effects of the short-term cuts on education quality will become permanent. This proposal uses the state’s budget deficit as an excuse to further shift the burden of higher education onto the backs of the students and their struggling families.

It looks as if Scott Walker is planning to run for president in 2016. Don’t you think he’d make a fantastic educational leader for our country?


Scott Walker To Cut $300 Million From Universities, Spend $500 Million On A Pro Basketball Stadium (ThinkProgress)

Reaction to the latest state budget news (Office of the Chancellor, University of Wisconsin at Madison)

Walker’s proposed UW cuts go too deep: Our View (Wausau Daily Herald)

A reckless proposal to gut UW from Gov. Scott Walker (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Walker proposes investment of $220 million for Bucks arena (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

This entry was posted in Conservatives, Economics, Education, Government, States, Tea Party, United States. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Governor Scott Walker Planning to Cut $300 Million in Funding for the University of Wisconsin…While Proposing $220 Million Investment for Milwaukee Bucks Arena

  1. blouise says:

    Wisconsin did give us Joe McCarthy so why not Scott Walker. After all, what more can one expect from a State that actually has a law like this:

    Whenever two trains meet at an intersection of said tracks, neither shall proceed until the other has.

  2. rafflaw says:

    Walker is poised to become the latest Republican presidential candidate and he must bow down to the oiligarch’s who he is beholden to.

  3. pete says:

    I think I’ll register as a republican and start a petition to get Rick Scott to run for president. On his campaign posters we can just use Montgomery Burns, no one will notice the difference.

  4. swarthmoremom says: “Scott Walker indulged his dream of the presidency at the expense of the people of Wisconsin [“Scott Walker leads tight GOP pack in in new Iowa Poll,” Jan. 31]. The views of 600 Tea Party members from Iowa were more important than jobs in Wisconsin. With a month remaining before the deadline, he killed an $800 million project [a casino in Kenosha]. He went against the study that he had commissioned, which showed there would be a net gain of more than 3,900 jobs. He defied the will of a majority of the people and a bipartisan group of political leaders, including many prominent Republicans. He immediately left for Iowa to proclaim his leadership skills.

    Having failed to reach an agreement with Indian tribes in Wisconsin, he expects the country to believe he is ready to deal with the North Koreans and Iranians. He allowed a tribe to withhold a $25 million payment from the state without challenge. After preaching self-reliance, capitalist ideals, and smaller government, he has guaranteed the continuation of a monopoly of a large tribe of his political donors over a desperately poor tribe. This at the expense of a huge project, which would have made southeastern Wisconsin an entertainment destination.

    Scott Walker has built the foundation of his presidential campaign on the backs of the people of Wisconsin. We will be paying the price for his presidential quest for years to come.”

  5. Inga says:

    A Republican history UW professor has some bones to pick with Walker. He takes umbrage with Walker’s comment that UW professors need to “work harder”.

  6. bron98 says:

    call in 11-1 and talk to Yaron Brook head of the Ayn Rand Institute.

  7. It’s no wonder that Walker is now going after the UW. He didn’t finish college – whether he dropped out or was kicked out is subject of much speculation – and he has done so well without a degree. (You really need to hear my tone of voice.)

  8. swarthmoremom says:

    Perry and his appointed regents went after Bill Powers, the president of UT and ousted him. He was like by students and professors alike.

  9. Inga says:

    Walker, that jackass, strikes out what we call the “Wisconsin Idea” from the new budget.

    Walker also strikes language ensuring that the mission of the UW is to extend “training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition,” as well as the language: “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”

  10. rafflaw says:

    Walker doesn’t need any truth other than what he is told by his handlers, the Koch Brothers.

  11. Inga says:

    Raff, true. That phoney phone call was right on the money.

  12. Inga says:

    Here’s a diary from Jud Lounsbury, my friend and attorney’s husband, about Walker the jackass removing the “Wisconsin Idea” from the budget bill.

  13. I’m sensing a “jackass” theme regarding Walker developing here.

    While that word is a great insult, I’d like to interject briefly to note that donkeys proper have contributed quite a bit to the efforts of civilization and should in no way be confused for their human counterparts.

    Thank you.

  14. Inga says:

    I do humbly apologize to donkeys everywhere.

  15. Elaine M. says:

    Scott Walker’s hilarious screwup: How he messed with University of Wisconsin — and infuriated his state
    This guy is seriously the best the Republicans have? Here’s why he’s backtracking on a lame new education “reform”
    Heather Digby Parton

    Still, Walker seems to be thrilling the punditocracy even more than these bland Governors usually do. This undoubtedly has to do with the fact that he survived a recall effort and won re-election afterwards, which makes him in the eyes of the beltway some sort of giant slayer. But the fact is that he first won in the Democratic bloodbath of 2010 and then barely eked out a win in the next Democratic bloodbath of 2014. In the middle of those two off-year Republican landslides, he was recalled! No other Governor in the nation was recalled, but Scott Walker was and that somehow makes him a great moderate reformer who is a GOP national hero. By that logic, more Governors should want to be recalled so they can be admired for their political brilliance.

    Walker is also seen as a very serious threat to rest of the GOP field because he is popular among Republicans in Iowa. But then so was Pat Robertson and he didn’t have the benefit of sharing the same media market at the Wisconsin Governor does. And many Iowa winners of both parties litter the graveyard of presidential dreams. Being popular there is not a sign of political savvy, it’s a sign of … being popular in Iowa.

    None of this is to say that Walker has no chance or that he doesn’t have a nice set of qualifications for the GOP primary voter. He is an extremely right-wing Christian who is very conversant in the language of hardcore social conservatism. (See: popular in Iowa.) This is a valuable skill for any GOP candidate who needs to navigate the treacherous waters of Republican party politics without seeming like a zealot to the rest of the country. And his initiatives to restrict the right to vote are catnip to Republicans of all stripes. (If there’s one thing they know it’s that they cannot win if everyone who is eligible to vote is allowed to cast a ballot.) And if there’s one comparison to Ronald Reagan that actually makes some sense it has to be the crown jewel of his political achievements: union busting.

    Still, Walker is something of a clod who gets himself into trouble time and time again. It’s not just that he speaks in tangled syntax that only a Navajo Code Talker could love.

  16. pete says:

    I’m guessing the University of Wisconsin doesn’t have an ex-governors box seat.

  17. I keep thinking Walker reminds me of somebody. Give me some time and I am sure it will come to me.

  18. Elaine M. says:


    I almost posted that video. Walker reminds me of Mortimer Snerd AND Gumby.

  19. Quite appropriate, Chuck.

    From the summary of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – PolitiFact WI analysis:

    Walker said fundamental changes to the language describing the Wisconsin Idea in the University of Wisconsin System’s mission statement were the result of a “drafting error” in his state budget proposal.

    But Walker’s administration had insisted to UW System officials on making the changes, giving detailed instructions on passages to be removed from state law. And eventually Walker himself acknowledged that the UW System had objected to the changes before his budget was put into final form.

    His original claim was not only inaccurate, but ridiculous. Pants on Fire.


    Last line is highly uncharacteristic of the MJS, or any WI mainstream media for that matter.

  20. Pingback: Monday Reads: We Do Not Welcome our Corporate Overlords | Sky Dancing

  21. Pingback: Monday Reads: We Do Not Welcome our Corporate Overlords

  22. Elaine M. says:

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Tripped Up by Truth
    Monday, 09 February 2015 10:06
    By Mary Bottari, PR Watch | Report

  23. Elaine M. says:

    Scott Walker’s lying mess: How a tough Wisconsin teacher schooled the governor
    A Marquette classmate debunks the college dropout’s tales about a “teacher of the year” and “the Wisconsin idea”

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker jumped to the front of the unimpressive GOP 2016 presidential pack thanks in large part to rave reviews for his speech at the conservative Iowa Freedom Summit late last month. (The Washington Post charts the impact of the speech here.)

    But it turns out one of its most powerful moments was a lie.

    Walker told the story of Megan Sampson, whom he said was “the [2010] Outstanding Teacher of the Year in my state.” He claimed Sampson was laid off that same year by Milwaukee Public Schools because of union seniority rules, which were abolished by Act 10, the 2011 legislation that dismantled protections for public employees.

    In fact, Sampson was not the Outstanding Teacher of the Year, not even one of them. An actual 2010 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, Claudia Klein Felske, who won the high school award, laid out the extent of Walker’s fib in an open letter to Walker posted on the Marquette Educator site Monday. There were also awards given for middle school, elementary school and special services teachers of the year, she explained, but Sampson was not among them.

    It turns out the award Megan Sampson received was the “Nancy Hoefs Memorial Award,” given to “an outstanding first year teacher of language arts” by a small Wisconsin English teachers association. Winners nominate themselves, and there were fewer than a dozen such nominations that year.

    It’s true that Sampson was sent a layoff notice due to state budget cuts that year, and seniority was one factor, but she was recalled to her post that same summer. She declined the job, and went to teach in the suburbs.

    And while Walker was boasting that his 2011 rollback of public workers’ rights made layoffs of younger teachers like Sampson impossible, in fact Act 10 doesn’t even prevent the use of seniority in layoffs.

  24. Pingback: Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin’s Budget Woes | Flowers For Socrates

Comments are closed.