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0958, 11 Jan 17

Walker Proposes Tuition Decrease

This is an interesting proposal.

Gov. Scott Walker said during his seventh State of the State address Tuesday he will cut in-state tuition at all University of Wisconsin campuses in his upcoming budget proposal.

Walker said after the speech the tuition cut will be covered with additional state taxpayer dollars. Republican leaders of the Legislature’s budget committee reserved judgment until seeing more details.
I heard Walker on the Jay Weber Show explain this morning that his plan would pay down tuition with more state tax dollars, but that those tax dollars would be contingent upon performance at the universities. Obviously, there are a lot of details yet to be known, but we have a basic sketch.

Even though I have kids who would benefit from a cut in tuition, I don’t like the plan as a matter of public policy. The root cause of the reason that tuition is so high is because the universities spend too much. They have to pay for that spending with something. Until such point as the universities control their spending to a greater degree to bring it in line with the state taxpayers’ and students’ ability to afford them, anything that sends them more funding will only exacerbate the problem.

But, as I said, there are details yet to be known. Let’s see what the full proposal looks like.


0958, 11 January 2017


  1. Brian

    If we’re going to look at education funding, can we start consolidating the ridiculous number of two and four year public schools? In Iowa, they have a whopping 3 four-year schools. Illinois, with vastly more population than Wisconsin, has about the same number of four-year schools.

    Why have 13 four-year schools, many of which graduate a pathetic number of students.

    The State should force up entry requirements, reduce the number of students paying for worthless degrees they’ll never use or even obtain, and start consolidating schools.

  2. Le Roi du Nord

    Just a couple questions so I can better understand your points of view:

    “universities spend too much”  Compared to what?  What is the right amount to spend?

    “reduce the number of students paying for worthless degrees they’ll never use”.   What degrees are worthless, which are worth earning?  What criteria do you use to make that decision?  What is the proper number of students?


  3. Brian

    The degrees that will never pay back the student are worthless. By definition. I guess in your world, every degree is valuable because it pays the bloated salaries of administrators and athletic programs.

  4. penquin

    I keep hearing folks badmouth Illinois, but now we’re supposed to emulate ’em?

  5. billphoto

    Instead of parsing words, how about a couple of facts compiled by Media Trackers,  MT looked at 28 professors at the 4 year level:

    Just 40 classes (three or more credits) were taught total, averaging 1.43 classes per professor this spring.
    A total of $2.83 million in salaries, averaging over $101,000 per professor.
    Just five professors of the 28 taught three or more courses while eight professors, or 28.6%, taught no classes at all.
    Not a single UW-Madison or UW-Milwaukee professor taught more than two classes.
    Six of the eight professors that do not teach a single class are employed at UW-Madison – the university that makes up more than 38% of the proposed budget cut.
    Three professors taught four classes each during the spring semester. Those three professors each made less than $70,000, which is more than $10,000 less than the lowest paid UW-Madison professor — who taught just one class.
    The highest paid professor was the professor first listed on the letter and the professor who posted the letter online. That UW-Milwaukee professor, Richard Grusin, makes $153,016 for teaching just one class.
    One professor, Marc Levine of UW-Milwaukee, is paid $65,827 a year and teaches just one course this spring – a history course based on the HBO series “The Wire.”

  6. Le Roi du Nord


    You still didn’t answer the question: which degrees are worthless??  I know rich, successful and  taxpaying English Lit majors, and deadbeat PEs.  Don’t you think it is the degree holder rather than the degree that makes the difference?

  7. Brian

    If you subscribe to the idea the signaling theory of education, you must view academic spending as even less important than I do.

  8. Le Roi du Nord


    You can’t/won’t answer the question so you reply with nonsense.  Not really serious about this, are you?

  9. Kevin Scheunemann

    Where is liberal UW student Walker celebration march????

    They protesr every tuition increase…made mostly by Democrats.

    Walker has froze tuition, now proposing decease.

    Delicate snowflake Liberals at UW Madison should be throwing their open carry dildos in the air in celebration!

    Where is the thanking of Walker for release from some past Democrat greed?

  10. Jenn Donath

    I agree that there is bloat with administration and some athletics. However, I want to give some more information on salaries and other university costs.

    UW instructor salaries are public record, but there is no breakdown of how they are paid. For example, I teach at UWO and my “public record” salary is what I earned in recent years, but it is not my base pay. I am expected to teach 10 classes in an academic year for my base pay, but my earned salary that is on public record includes course overloads, summer classes I taught, and various pedagogical trainings I completed that were paid for with grants (NOT tax payer dollars, but it still appears as a lump sum and there is no breakdown for the public to see). This is true for many other college instructors, and some reports fail to mention this.

    The professors who teach only one or two classes are most likely experts in their field who get course releases because of their research and publications. This research, especially in STEM, brings in A LOT of money for the UW system. The university  instructors who teach most 100- and 200-level classes are academic staff who earn a low salary but benefits, “rent a staff” who teach part time and are paid per credit and do not qualify for benefits, and graduate students who get free tuition and a very small stipend. This is where universities save money (colleges are different, and students may get more bang for their buck with an actual tenure track faculty member who teaches these lower-level classes).

    I’m more familiar with how budget cuts affect the libraries because I teach composition classes and I’m seeing how research resources are suffering, so that’s what I’ll use as an example of expenses that are somewhat out of a university’s control.

    Libraries have to pay for databases that provide online scholarly articles, and each database/program costs anywhere from five to seven figures. Crazy, I know. But that’s a separate argument with the cost of education. Each university MUST have specific programs to remain accredited with certain majors. For example, if we drop the very expensive CINAHL database we cannot continue to have a nursing program. It would be nice if UW schools could share databases, but of course it doesn’t work that way. Libraries try to work with each other and use interlibrary loan to make more articles accessible to students, but staff is needed to fill these requests, and with budget cuts, staffing is low so that’s a problem.

    Libraries still use interlibrary loan for books, but ebooks are the wave of the future. However, each university must pay for its own ebooks. No interlibrary loan or one payment to share a book with every UW school. Again, face palm, and that’s another conversation. Because of budget cuts, the most recent book publications are not as accessible to students.

    Education is expensive, but this includes issues with the cost of necessities that are part of a more systemic problem that is beyond a university’s control. The areas I am familiar with have made cuts and sacrifices, but it becomes a vicious circle. Right now attendance is low partly because birth rates for people in this age category is/was low. There just aren’t as many 18-21 year olds as there used to be. We can’t fill classes so we cut them, but if you cut too many classes students can’t graduate on time, and students are stuck paying for another semester (or more!) of schooling. That isn’t fair and it isn’t financially feasible for students and their families!

    I do believe in the value of a liberal education (meaning a variety of general requirements and a major area of study to earn a degree), and there is an article by William Cronon called “Only Connect” that I recommend. I share many of his beliefs of why a liberal education is important. However, I also know that a liberal education isn’t for everyone, and we must also support trade schools and career readiness programs. If anyone acts elitist about having a college education and dismisses anyone who cannot or chooses not to get a college degree, that person deserves a thrashing! But on the flip side, we shouldn’t demonize a liberal education.

    I also agree that many majors do not teach transferable skills (I doubt if anyone will be required to research a philosopher and write a research paper in the course of his/her career). However, there are transformative skills (the ability to question, think critically, solve problems, be “coachable”) that come from a liberal education—even one with a humanities major. I also recommend researching articles on STEM to STEAM to learn more.

    Finally, while some people see the many UW schools as an expensive redundancy, I see it as a blessing. Our state is so fortunate to have universities that basically started with a land grant. With more universities, each school can specialize in a certain field. It is more likely that a student can find a school that is a right fit based on size, demographics, campus, and so on. Because there are so many schools, more students have more opportunities to save money by commuting, or it is easier for them to come home weekends if they are homesick. On the flip side, an angst-ridden teen can choose the UW school that is furthest from home.

    For people in West Bend, having UWWC is an incredible advantage. It is a relatively inexpensive way to earn college credits; get back on track to raise a GPA; take two years to become more “college ready” by taking classes that are as rigorous as the four-year universities, but they have smaller class sizes so students get more individualized attention;  live at home to save money; and so on.

    I wish that the price tag wasn’t so expensive. I also wish I had the answers to further reduce spending without compromising quality, because in my own UW cocoon I promise we are doing as much as we can with the resources we have. We continue to make cuts while maintaining a quality education for students—and they deserve this with the hefty price they pay for their degrees—but it still isn’t enough. The cuts we’re making are definitely having a negative impact, and I am frustrated for myself, other instructors, students, and other taxpayers because it still isn’t enough.

    Thank you for reading!

  11. Brian

    Nice dodge. Typical liberal.

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