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University of Wisconsin-Superior

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Superior, WI 54880

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UW-Superior makes difficult cuts to cover state budget lapse

Posted on Nov 4, 2011
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UW-Superior makes difficult cuts to cover state budget lapse

The University of Wisconsin-Superior will cancel Winterfest, reduce some building hours, and leave vacant jobs unfilled as it seeks ways to make up a proposed $700,000 loss in state support caused by the recently announced state budget lapse.

The Wisconsin Department of Administration announced Oct. 14 that the University of Wisconsin System would lose $65.6 million in taxpayer support over the next two years to help cover a shortfall or "lapse" in the state budget. UW-Superior's share of the lapse is $700,290 this year, followed by a $298,176 loss next year.

To cover the lapse during the current fiscal year, Chancellor Renée Wachter directed all university offices and departments to determine ways to reduce spending.

"I am asking our staff and faculty to make many difficult decisions about how we can reduce spending to cover the state's budget lapse," Wachter said. "We already lost $1.9 million in state support under this year's state budget. We hope that the lapse will be a one-time reduction in spending and not affect future state funding for UW-Superior and the UW System."

"Our goal, as always, is to minimize the effect these state spending cuts have on students.  Unfortunately, our campus and community will feel their impact in this latest round of reductions," she added.

The Department of Administration has directed the University of Wisconsin System to absorb 38 percent of the state's overall $174.3 million lapse even though the UW System typically represents 7 percent of the state's tax-dollar spending. Placing a disproportional share of the burden on the university system would negate the 5.5 percent tuition increase that the UW System Board of Regents approved last summer to maintain quality in the face of state funding cuts.  Students, many of whom are first-generation students and holding one or more jobs to pay for college, would bear the brunt of subsidizing the state budget shortfalls.

To cover UW-Superior's portion of the budget lapse, staff and faculty are combing the campus budget for items that could be trimmed while trying to minimize the erosion of program quality. 

Preliminary cuts include canceling the popular Winterfest, which each year has drawn more than 2,000 community members to campus for the free event. Other reductions include eliminating subsidies for activities such as a summer theater camp for high school students, reducing operating hours for some campus buildings, leaving vacant faculty and staff positions unfilled and cutting back on employee travel for professional development and training.

UW-Superior plays an important role in the regional economy. A 2008 economic impact study showed the university generates approximately $41.2 million in annual spending and income for Superior and Douglas County, and is responsible for sustaining about 785 full- and part-time jobs for the local economy.

Under the state budget, UW-Superior lost $1.9 million in state support in each of the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. That amounted to more than 10 percent of the state's allocation to the university.

The budget reductions along with the proposed budget lapse of $998,466 over two years will mean UW-Superior is losing $4.7 million in state support over two years.

Wachter said she hopes the budget lapse will not turn in to permanent cut in UW-Superior's state allocation.

 "Our universities are in a precarious position," she said. " Further cuts jeopardize our ability to support the UW System's Growth Agenda of delivering affordable, accessible, quality educational experiences to the citizens of Wisconsin and in supporting the economic development and health of our communities."

UW-Superior employees will take part in an open forum Friday as they continue to seek ways to reduce spending through the university's budget reduction principles, which include minimizing the impact on students, maintaining an open dialogue, and supporting shared governance.

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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