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UW System construction projects part of additional $21M in new budget

By DINESH RAMDE
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The University of Wisconsin System will propose a budget asking for an additional $21 million in state funding, according to a preliminary request released Monday.

Gov. Scott Walker had asked the university last week to submit a budget that didn’t include any new spending. However, the university had been in contact with the governor’s office and the Department of Administration about including the additional request, UW System spokesman Dave Giroux said.

“We’ve been given the green light to include that in our request,” he said.

The money would be used in part to fund the UW System’s new flexible-degree initiative, a program that would grant college credit for real-world life experience.

The system also is seeking $187 million for four construction projects in Madison, La Crosse and Stevens Point. That money would be in the form of state-supported bonds but is separate from the 2013-15 budget.

The university also plans another 15 facility improvements that would cost $245.6 million, with the money coming from student fees, not taxpayers.

The request comes days after the UW System learned that a previous $66 million cut to its budget, known as a lapse, would not be made permanent.

“Wisconsin’s fiscal condition has begun showing signs of improvement, and state revenues should be a bit stronger,” UW System President Kevin Reilly said in a statement. “In this more favorable budget environment, we will seek opportunities to strengthen our education contribution to workforce development and partnerships with industry.”

The university was one of a handful of state agencies to which Walker wrote declaring them exempt from permanent cuts going into the next two-year budget cycle.

State agencies are in the process now of submitting their spending plans for the next two years beginning in July 2013. Walker will release his budget to the Legislature early next year, which will likely pass a budget sometime in the summer.

The UW Board of Regents is scheduled to discuss its budget request at a meeting Thursday. UW received about 17 percent of the state’s current two-year, $64 billion budget.

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