Get ready for the state budget process to begin
July 1 might seem like a long way off, but it’s when the new state budget will take effect — and the process is about to kick into high gear. Gov. Walker will release his 2017-19 proposal at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, which will then be reviewed and amended by the Joint Finance Committee and the full Legislature for 4½ months before taking effect July 1.
In contrast to previous budgets, I go into this debate with guarded optimism that UW-Stout and the rest of the UW System will emerge with additional resources with which we can fulfill our mission to prepare students for rewarding careers after graduation. The governor has spoken about increasing funding for the UW System and tying it to performance measures, which is a good sign. He also has indicated that he wants to cut the cost of tuition at UW institutions, with the state picking up the costs.
We will be very interested in seeing the details of these and other proposals and will get the details to campus as soon as possible after the governor’s address Wednesday evening.
Chippewa Valley Rally a satisfying experience
The governor, along with Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, spoke last Wednesday to the 23rd annual Chippewa Valley Rally, sponsored by the chambers of commerce in Menomonie, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. It was a tremendous opportunity to visit with legislators from across the state and talk about the upcoming budget.
I appreciate that rally organizers fully endorsed the UW System’s $42.5 million budget proposal as one of their “asks.” That sends a very powerful message to our elected officials about the business support for increased UW funding. The Leader-Telegram wrote a very nice editorial Sunday about this issue, which can be found on the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram website.
Rep. Quinn spends some quality time on campus
I also had a very positive meeting Friday with state Rep. Romaine Quinn, a Republican from Chetek, who sits on the Assembly Colleges and University Committee. We had a great discussion about the issues important to UW-Stout, both fiscal and policy. I want to thank Rep. Quinn for the time he spent on campus.
It’s important that we establish strong relationships with our local legislators, especially those in a position to influence higher education legislation.
Advocacy plan rounds into shape
Finally, we are putting the finishing touches on our advocacy plan for the state budget, which leans heavily on our external stakeholders to talk to legislators on our behalf as the budget process continues. We have assembled a list of potential advocates and are talking to them about the degree to which they want to be involved. I think this will be a very effective approach in the weeks ahead.
Welcome aboard, CIO Traxler
I want to officially welcome Suzanne Traxler to campus as our new chief information officer. She replaces Doug Wahl, who has retired, and comes to us with a wealth of experience in the IT field from a similar position at UW-Platteville.
I look forward to working with Suzanne on a variety of issues and to seeking her advice and counsel as a member of my Cabinet. Please take time to introduce yourself to Suzanne and make her feel welcome. A news release about her appointment is available on the UW-Stout News website.
Thanks to Lt. Gov. Kleefisch for visiting Fab Lab
I was privileged to spend Tuesday afternoon with Lt. Gov. Kleefisch in our Discovery Center Fab Lab as she, along with Mark Hogan, CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., announced a $60,000 contract for our Center for Innovation and Development.
We will match the $60,000, and the money will be used to help innovators take their ideas through a prototype to market. Details about the contract are available on the UW-Stout News website.
I was overwhelmed by the lieutenant governor’s warm words of praise for UW-Stout, highlighted by our 97.3 percent employment rate for recent graduates and our efforts to help businesses and industries solve their problems and become more efficient.