Administrative budget cut statewide

Last week Gov. Scott McCallum signed the state biennium budget for 2002-2003 that included a $300,000 cut in administrative costs for UW-Eau Claire and a 4.5 percent increase in financial aid for students.

Vice Chancellor of Business and Student Services Andrew Soll and Student Senate President Andy Oettinger were relieved that the governor agreed to increase financial aid after deciding to increase tuition at UW System schools by 7 percent this year.

They were disappointed, however, that the governor vetoed a proposal made by the conference committee that would have tied future tuition increases to proportionate increases in financial aid.

But Oettinger said the final budget McCallum agreed to was a vast improvement over his original proposal.

“Across the board it was horrible: low funding, no increases in financial aid,” said Oettinger, who spent the summer in Eau Claire speaking with state officials about the budget process.

Oettinger said one of the things he was disappointed with in the final budget was the cuts in the funding for the administration. But Soll said because the administration’s budget is lean by national standards, at 6 percent of the university’s budget, they would have to find other ways to make up for the cut.

In the coming weeks, Soll will meet with Chancellor Donald Mash and other administrative officials to decide how to meet the governor’s request to slice the University System’s administrative budget by 5 percent statewide.

Over the summer Oettinger met with Soll and Mash to discuss the way to handle the cuts and said that all three parties were on the same page.

“We’re really allies here,” Oettinger said. “The more money we have the better off (the administration is), the better off students are, the better off the faculty is.”

Soll said he thought the university would be able to move funding from other sources or delay some large dollar purchases to make up for the money in this year’s budget.

However Soll didn’t speculate on the long term solutions, saying that the administration would do all it could to ensure no faculty or programs would be cut.

While disappointed with the budget cut, Soll said the university administration was pleased that McCallum included full funding for the Chippewa Valley Initiative.

The initiative teams up Eau Claire, UW-Stout and Chippewa Valley Technical College to help provide local technology companies with more qualified job applicants.

Soll said Eau Claire would receive the majority of the money and that it would help to expand the computer science program, allowing the school to offer new majors, hire additional faculty positions and update current labs starting next school year.

The initiative was part of a number of similar programs system wide that are aimed to better train Wisconsin’s work force.