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Regents to consider biennial budget request (Aug 14, 2008)

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August 14, 2008

Regents to consider biennial budget request

UW System’s “Growth Agenda for Wisconsin” continues to focus on more graduates, new jobs and stronger communities for the state

MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is scheduled to approve a biennial state budget request for 2009-2011 at next week’s meeting in Madison.

After approval by the Regents, the budget will be submitted to the Department of Administration for consideration as part of Governor Jim Doyle’s 2009-11 Executive Budget, which goes to the state legislature for approval.

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly will recommend a budget that continues prudent state investments in the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin – a strategic plan that Reilly and the Regents first introduced in 2006.

With bipartisan legislative support and endorsements from local communities, the UW System’s Growth Agenda focuses on producing more college graduates, creating leading-edge jobs in Wisconsin, and growing strong communities.

“The economic news lately has been unsettling, to say the very least. If we want our state to emerge from this downturn and compete successfully in today’s global economy, we must invest in Wisconsin’s greatest asset – its hardworking, talented people,” said Reilly. “In his budget instructions to state agencies, Governor Doyle prioritized education and job creation. That’s precisely what we’re focused on.”

“During the last state budget, the Growth Agenda received broad public support, because individual initiatives were developed locally with personal involvement of business leaders, regional economic development entities, students, and others,” added Reilly. “Those local stakeholders understand that this is not about building a bigger university. It’s about building a vibrant state where our children and grandchildren will enjoy a high quality of life.”

UW System’s request for new initiatives in the 2009-11 operating budget will closely mirror the last biennial budget, seeking $37.5 million in additional state general purpose revenue (GPR) and $13.4 million in fees to support the Growth Agenda.

UW System’s Growth Agenda request includes plans to provide additional access to more than 7,000 full-time-equivalent students, along with other initiatives focused on enhancing the state’s workforce and stimulating economic development:

  • Working Adults: UW Colleges and UW-Extension plan to partner with four-year campuses to develop four new online degree programs targeting Wisconsin’s working adult population. UW-Oshkosh proposes to increase its number of adult students and UW-Superior will provide additional support for adult students through a one-stop adult student center.
  • Access and Success: UW-Green Bay and UW-Whitewater both plan to expand enrollments during the biennium, while UW-Parkside and UW-Superior will focus on improving student success and overall productivity through increased retention and graduation rates. UW-La Crosse, which is already expanding enrollment using existing resources, needs more financial aid to preserve broad college access.
  • Research Capacity: UW-Milwaukee would use new state investments to fund new scientific research projects. UW-Madison is seeking to preserve significant amounts of federal funding the campus receives by addressing new NIH requirements for university cost-sharing. Its initiative will also help attract and retain top-flight graduate students as part of the UW System’s “brain gain” strategy. Both campuses are focused on leveraging federal dollars to ramp up scientific research that translates into new Wisconsin jobs.
  • Workforce Development: UW-Washington County and UW-Sheboygan, through an expanded partnership with UW-Platteville, would offer access to four-year engineering degree programs. Other plans call for a new Tissue and Cellular Innovation Center at UW-River Falls, where students can prepare for jobs in the biotech industry.
  • Economic Development: A proposed Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology at UW-Stevens Point would build on the campus’ strengths in forestry, paper science, waste management and related fields, stimulating new economic development in the region. Similarly, a proposed Discovery Center at UW-Stout would allow students and faculty to further address research related to the needs of state businesses.
  • Emerging Community Needs: UW-Eau Claire would increase access to its Applied Behavior Analysis program to meet the state’s growing need for people with expertise in autism and other developmental disabilities. UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Engagement Center would facilitate student and faculty work on specific civic, business, and nonprofit issues in the community.

“We have examined each of these individual initiatives thoroughly, to ensure that they align with the state’s needs and the UW System’s strategic plan,” said Reilly. “We have worked with our institutions to make their proposals as cost-effective as possible. What remains are high-priority projects that match the strengths of our individual campuses with the needs and priorities of each region.”

As part of the two-year budget request, the UW System has identified high-need capital projects at campuses throughout the state, to be funded through a mix of state-funded bonds, and fee-supported bonds, and private gifts. UW System’s 2009-11 capital request seeks $140 million in new state-supported bonding for high-priority construction projects. Selected examples of high-priority capital projects include:

  • Renovation of outdated classrooms, labs, and other instructional spaces in Carlson Hall and Roseman Hall at UW-Whitewater;
  • Creating new multi-functional science labs and classroom space in Barstow Hall at UW-Superior;
  • Renovating the Dairy Cattle Center at UW-Madison, including work to improve accessibility for students and constructing a high-density shelving facility to accommodate the UW-Madison’s significant library collections; and
  • Investing in energy efficient utility infrastructure at UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Stevens Point.

Four projects would be funded entirely with private gifts. These include renovations to the UW-Madison Agricultural Research Stations around the state and improvements to Pioneer Stadium at UW-Platteville. Private gifts of $89 million for 10 major UW System projects will save taxpayers and students an estimated $139 million, compared to the cost of borrowing the same amount for construction.

UW System’s proposed capital budget includes 12 facilities to be funded with $258 million in non-state-supported bonds. Key projects include new residence halls to accommodate growing student demand at UW-La Crosse and UW-Madison and renovation of older existing residence halls at UW-Platteville and UW-Whitewater. UW-Madison will also replace an outdated food service facility at Gordon Commons and construct a new hockey practice facility at the Kohl Center.
The budget also calls for new academic buildings at UW-River Falls and UW-Eau Claire and the second phase of the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research at UW-Madison, with construction to begin in fiscal year 2011.

“As we did with the operating budget, we’ve prioritized these projects, and the request for state funding represents about half of the individual campus needs. This is an area where our decisions can have an immediate positive impact on Wisconsin’s economy,” said Reilly. “Using a standard economic multiplier, our total UW System capital budget proposal would translate into a $1.7 billion economic impact statewide and more than 20,000 Wisconsin jobs.”

For more information, see www.wisconsin.edu.

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Media Contacts:
David F. Giroux
UW System
(608) 262-4464