Government Relations

Testimony on Pending Legislation: Assembly Bills 317 and 318

Before Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs
April 19, 2005
Testimony of Margaret Lewis
Associate Vice President for Government Relations

Chairman Loeffelholz, committee members, I am Margaret Lewis, representing the University of Wisconsin System.

I am here today to suggest amendments are needed to both AB 317 and AB 318 to add the appropriate state appropriation to fund the new benefits proposed in these two bills:

  • Free tuition for the dependents of deceased veterans and those with more than a 30% disability,
  • and half-priced tuition for any Wisconsin veteran.

The UW System and students support the important benefits. It has been a long standing tradition of American society that all citizens should bear the financial obligation of veterans, benefits because all citizens gain by their sacrifice.

Many veterans may not be aware that the way the bill is currently drafted, it could mean reductions to the campuses of the UW system of more than $12 million annually. This could harm the quality of education that both veterans and non-veterans would receive. The Board of Regents supports important veterans benefits and believe you would want all citizens to help support these benefits.

Don Nelson, a veteran and UW-Madison Special Assistant to the chancellor will describe several improvements to the bill to clarify eligibility and coordinate this benefit with other veterans programs and Leslie Perelman an analyst in the UW system budget office will describe how the fiscal notes were developed based on the attached worksheets.

Thank you for your consideration of our recommendation that we all support new veteran benefits.

We would be happy to answer your questions following presentations.

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Supporting documents: