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 relief in sight?

Heather Mawhiney

Gov. Jim Doyle called for an increase in funding for Wisconsin’s higher education system last week as he made his plea to the Wisconsin Legislature to accept his 2007-09 biennial budget proposal.

“It is a plan that not only invests in the needs of all Wisconsinites, but reflects the greatest hopes and aspirations of our people,” Doyle said in his budget address. “An opportunity budget, reflecting Wisconsin’s values, protecting Wisconsin’s priorities, and investing in Wisconsin’s people.”

The governor also spoke to Chippewa Valley businessmen and women at the Eau Claire City Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, where he expanded on the budget’s effects in Eau Claire and surrounding areas, including its effects on UW-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College.

“It looks like more money for nursing programs, education programs and nanotechnology programs,” said Steve Tallant, interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

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However, some legislators disapproved of Doyle’s proposal. In a statement, Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, cited tax increases of $1,200 for a family of four.

“To put it bluntly, I’m disappointed with the Democrats’ budget,” Bies said in the press release. “Both the governor and my Democratic colleagues campaigned on holding the line on taxes but once they won the governorship and state Senate, they have now changed their position.”

Bies added that Assembly Republicans plan to submit their own version of the state budget.

Doyle’s budget aims to have a more financially responsible government, invest in shared responsibilities and create opportunities for working class families, he said.

In his address, Doyle said his budget calls for cuts within the government, amounting to $100 million in savings. Doyle also said the cuts would aid in creating a $130 million surplus and $2 billion in new revenue by 2009.

“Your government will be leaner, more efficient and more focused on the middle class families,” he said.

The budget will also allocate more money to higher education and includes a proposed increase in financial aid to students, Doyle said. The increase would be three times the amount of financial aid offered when the governor took office.

Doyle also urged the UW System Board of Regents to limit increases in tuition to no more than four percent. To compensate, Doyle said financial aid scholarships would increase to match the hikes in tuition costs.

Along with the increased financial aid, the governor said he plans to increase the tuition tax deduction available to students and their families. The increased tax deduction would save students $400 on their tax bill.

“For the first time in history, students and families throughout the UW System, technical colleges, and private colleges will be able to use this deduction not only for tuition, but for fees as well,” Doyle said.

Both the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled Assembly must still debate the budget before it goes into effect.

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Budget relief in sight?