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Politics & Government

Details Continue To Emerge from Gov. Walker's Budget

Center for Media and Democracy

UPDATE: Gov. Walker's office now says he will not change the mission of the UW System.

Earlier Wednesday, administrators saw changes made to what has been the system's mission for more than 100 years, called the Wisconsin Idea. It appeared the governor struck sections that have long directed the universities to reach beyond campus to serve the public and improve the human condition.

What had been inserted instead, was a directive to prepare students for the workforce needs existing in Wisconsin.

UW System leaders were outraged by the change, including President Ray Cross, who said the Wisconsin Idea is the reason the UW System exists.

Late Wednesday, a spokesperson for Walker called the move "a drafting error" and said the Wisconsin Idea will remain in the budget.

The governor described his two-year $68 billion budget in broad terms Tuesday evening, when delivering it to the Legislature. He did not mention the 13% cut he wants to make in the UW System, the tuition freeze or a new governance system for the state's universities.

Wednesday, he traveled the state, touting the highlights of the plan, including the fact that it would lower the average property tax bill by $10.

Other provisions contained in Gov. Walker's $68 billion budget for Wisconsin include cutting $15 million from the popular SeniorCare program. It offers elders prescription drug benefits. In cutting $15 million, the state would also lose $15 million in matching federal funds for the program. Walker says the cuts "will ensure coherent alignment with Medicare Part D.

Also included in the budget, is the elimination of 446 state jobs. Walker says half are now vacant. The state would shed others in the Dept of Corrections, the DNR and other agencies. 

Regarding Walker's desire to expand Wisconsin's school voucher program, his plan would eliminate the cap of 1,000 students that currently exists. Students transferring from public to private schools could use the program at any time, but private school students could only get vouchers when entering kindergarten, first and ninth grades. 

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