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UPDATE: UW Officials: Reserve Will Grow to $1.2 Billion

UPDATED Thursday, May 2, 2013 --- 11:28 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- University of Wisconsin System officials are telling legislators they expect to have $1.2 billion in reserve by the end of June.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports system President Kevin Reilly and regents Michael Falbo and Regina Millner met privately with Senate Republicans on Tuesday and Assembly Republicans on Wednesday.

They told Assembly Republicans the system had nearly $1.7 billion in reserve at the end of March and expects to have $1.2 billion on June 30.

An analysis last month showed the system had $1.04 billion in reserve as of mid-2012, including $648 million in unrestricted money. Republicans have criticized the system's annual tuition increases in light of the reserves. They have pledged to freeze tuition in the upcoming state budget.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, April 25, 2013 --- 5:50 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker is beginning to hedge on his initial proposal to boost the University of Wisconsin System's budget.

He says most of that money may be redirected to pay for a tuition freeze or to boost funding for public schools.

Walker had proposed that UW get a $181 million spending increase over the next two years.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told The Associated Press Thursday that he doesn't think UW should get the spending increase.

Later Thursday, Walker backed off the full $181 million but said he wants to try to keep a $20 million increase allocated for economic development.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo on Friday showing the system finished the year with a nearly $650 million surplus.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, April 25, 2013 --- 10:34 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Republican leaders of the Legislature's powerful budget committee aren't saying whether they agree with scaling back money for the University of Wisconsin System.

Republicans are outraged over a memo that shows the system has a built a $648 million surplus, including $414 million in tuition dollars, while raising tuition rates.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on Thursday said he doesn't think the system should get a $181 million spending increase Gov. Scott Walker has pledged in his executive budget.

The budget committee's leaders, Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. John Nygren, wouldn't say Thursday whether they believe the system's funding should be reduced. Darling says that's a question for another day.

Nygren promised not to draw money out of the reserves to fund other state projects.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, April 24, 2013 --- 3:26 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Democrats are joining their rival Republicans' call for University of Wisconsin System officials to freeze tuition.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo released last week shows the system finished the 2012 fiscal year with nearly $650 million in reserves, including $414 million in surplus tuition dollars. Republicans are questioning how the Board of Regents could justify raising tuition for six straight years in light of the massive reserves.

Republicans have vowed to freeze tuition in the upcoming state budget. Democratic legislative leaders, typically among the system's staunchest supports, drafted a letter to system President Kevin Reilly and the board Wednesday calling the surplus unjustifiable and asking the regents to freeze tuition for two years.

A system spokesman says it's difficult to comment because the budget is still in flux.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, April 24, 2013 --- 11:56 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker plans to ask the Legislature to freeze tuition at the University of Wisconsin in light of reports that UW has $650 million in reserves.

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said Wednesday the call for a tuition freeze and possibly other changes will be submitted to lawmakers in a week to 10 days.

The university has been the target of blistering criticism, primarily from Republican lawmakers, following the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo released Friday that detailed the reserve funds.

UW President Kevin Reilly defended the university during a hearing Tuesday before legislative leaders, saying the reserves were built up to protect themselves as state funding dwindles. He also acknowledged that anger over the accumulated money was, in many ways, justified.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 23, 2013--6:15p.m.

MADISON--UW officials are getting grilled by state lawmakers.
The heat's been on the officials since it was revealed on Friday that they've been stockpiling a tuition surplus while continuing to raise tuition rates. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau found that the UW system had a $648 million surplus. More than $414 million of that total comes from tuition dollars. On Tuesday, UW System President Kevin Reilly went in front of lawmakers and defended the decision to save that surplus--as lawmakers demanded answers.

"Continually time after time after time you have embarrassed the state of Wisconsin," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington. "And your actions to create this billion dollar slush fund by having huge tuition increases are shameful......start out with making sure that you clearly understand the magnitude of the situation that you are now leaving the legislature to deal with."

"I think what's happened over years," said UW System President Kevin Reilly. "And this has been a pattern, is that we have sent the message and it's not been just in Wisconsin, it's not been just the system or state government in Wisconsin, it's been all across the country that public higher education is going to need to operate more on its own bottom, that there will be, relatively speaking, less state funding." Reilly also said the number of high school graduates is expected to fall over the next decade and added they would need some reserves to cover the drop in tuition dollars that fall could prompt.

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 23, 2013 --- 10:55 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican legislators are giving University of Wisconsin System officials a tongue-lashing over a report that shows the system has squirreled away a massive tuition surplus while raising students' rates for years.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a report Friday that showed the system had a $648 million surplus as of the end of June, including $414. 1 million in tuition.

Republicans on the Legislature's employment relations committee told system President Kevin Reilly during a hearing Tuesday they're shocked. Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills accused Reilly and system officials of scheming to hide the surpluses from the public. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Burlington said the entire state is outraged at the system.

Reilly responded the surpluses serve as a safety net as state aid for the system dwindles.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Friday, April 19, 2013 --- 4:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A new Legislative Fiscal Bureau report shows the University of Wisconsin System finished fiscal year 2012 with nearly $650 million sitting in reserve, including $414.1 million in surplus tuition dollars.

The bureau released a memo Friday saying the tuition surplus was $212.8 million as of mid-2009 and $393 million as of mid-2011. Base tuition across the system's four-year schools has gone up 5.5 percent annually between mid-2009 and mid-2012.

Republican legislative leaders issued a statement blasting system administrators. They questioned how the system could justify raising tuition in light of the surplus and vowed to include a two-year freeze on tuition in the 2013-15 state budget.

A system spokesman didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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