The chairman of the Assembly’s higher education committee says he won’t hold a hearing sought by Democrats on the impact of cuts to the University of Wisconsin System’s state funding.
Reps. Dianne Hesselbein and Terese Berceau, Madison-area Democrats on the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, called last week for a public hearing on how UW institutions have been carrying out a $250 million reduction to higher education funding included in the 2015-17 state budget.
Sens. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, on Monday made a similar request for hearings by the Senate’s higher education committee on the budget cuts.
UW officials canceled presentations planned for last week’s meeting of the System’s Board of Regents on how the cuts have played out at each campus.
UW System President Ray Cross said he took the presentations off the Regents’ agenda for several reasons, including concern they could lead to accusations that UW was exaggerating the impact of the budget cuts.
The Legislature will soon consider the UW System’s funding request for the 2017-19 state budget.
Hesselbein and Berceau sent a letter Thursday to committee chairman Rep. David Murphy, R-Greenville, asking him to schedule a public hearing at which the chancellors could give the presentations they prepared for the Regents’ meeting.
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Murphy responded Friday that he would not hold a hearing.
He suggested instead that the Board of Regents and local UW campuses are the appropriate places to hear the presentations.
The office of Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges Chairwoman Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, did not respond to Hansen and Bewley’s call for a hearing.
Hesselbein and Berceau said Monday they disagreed with Murphy’s decision.
The public hasn’t heard nearly enough specific information about how the cuts to higher education funding have been playing out on UW campuses, or the effects they have had on staffing levels, course offerings and graduation times, Hesselbein said.
“Republican legislators and our governor made the cuts,” Berceau said.
“They should have some interest and hopefully some concern about how the university fared under those cuts,” she added.