The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Budget cuts worse than initially thought

Get ready. They’re coming and they’re worse than most people think, an Eau Claire legislator said Monday during a Wisconsin Public Radio local program.

The impending budget cuts to the UW System was the focus of Monday night’s WPR “The West Side” talk show. The program featured UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Donald Mash, State Rep. Rob Kreibich, R-Eau Claire, State Rep. Larry Balow, D-Eau Claire, and WPR host Mary Jo Wagner.

“I expect some serious cuts, some deep cuts in the tech and universities,” Balow said.

In response to exactly how many cuts the System could face in the upcoming state budget, Balow said, “It’s just rumors, and I don’t want to start any rumors now.

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“They’re going to be deep. They’re a lot deeper than people think they are.”

The problem is that when cuts are deep, tuition is going to increase significantly, Balow said.

“We’re going to wait and see if we’re going to allow tuition to float or if they’re going to cap it,” he said.

Mash said UW-Eau Claire has prepared for the oncoming cuts.

“The reality is, we reduced the size of our freshmen class for next fall by 85 students,” Mash said, “because of the budget reductions we’ve already received last year and for this year.”

The reduced freshmen class size is not associated with the upcoming cuts for the next biennium, Mash said. Reductions in response to future cuts probably would be more painful, he said.

Wagner asked Mash to explain where Gov. Jim Doyle’s call for a $335,000 reduction by June 30 would be felt most.

“We’re going to do that simply by holding onto a small amount of planning reserve we would have used to upgrade some technology, do some other kind of operating things we’ve had on the drawing board for a while,” Mash said.

This reduction already is being felt, Mash said, because it has caused several administrative positions to remain vacant.

Some of those unfilled positions include director of athletics, chief personnel office, vice chancellor for Business Services and several custodial and facility positions, Mash said.

These job openings along with the push to fill some of them despite budget cuts have sparked some criticism from Kreibich.

Wagner asked him if his criticism was a result of an overly “fat” or “extravagant” UW-Eau Claire.

“This wasn’t an individual attack on UW-Eau Claire,” Kreibich said. “I guess I’m trying as best I can to shield faculty because that is direct contact with the students … which I think is going to suffer.”

The problem is a system-wide issue, Kreibich said, adding that he is worried about hiring people and then “having to lay them off in six months.”

“Given the magnitude of this deficit, I only raise the questions of filling vacancies,” Kreibich said. “Gov. Doyle is talking about cutting administration.”

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Budget cuts worse than initially thought