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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

UW Slush Fund Fallout - Lawmakers, Citizens Irate

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As first reported by RightWisconsin on Friday, the UW System has stockpiled a massive slush fund at the same time officials were hiking tuition and pleading poverty.

Reactions came swiftly. The Governor called for a tuition freeze.

It is very concerning to learn the UW System has been running a surplus balance of this size, especially at a time when students, families, and lawmakers have continually heard from the UW System about the need for more money to offset "devastating cuts."  At a minimum, on behalf of students and their families, I am asking legislative leaders to freeze tuition increases for two years for the entire UW System during their deliberations on the budget.

Senator Grothman takes it one further.

The balance of unused tuition dollars has increased over $200 million over the last three years therefore it should not be difficult to lower tuition for students. 
We must undo the damage for students who overpaid as freshmen and sophomores and make it up to them in their junior and senior years by lowering tuition. You would expect, with an ever-growing number of students taking online classes and the UW offering no discount for these courses, that the System would be flush with extra cash.
State Rep. Steve Nass says UW System President Kevin Reilly should be fired over this.
"More than 2/3 of this surplus was generated by unjustified tuition increases over the last three years.  In other words, President Reilly and the Board of Regents knowingly jacked-up tuition by 16.5% on Wisconsin families over three years even though the funds weren’t needed.  These actions are nothing short of a betrayal of the public trust," Nass said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos joined me on my show this morning. He was pretty upset, too. 

In fact, in this interview, Vos said he's completely reversed his opinion on granting the UW more autonomy.

"I can’t express enough disappointment in the UW System," Vos told me. "The UW system stockpiled money while the rest of state government was cutting back." Click here for the full interview.

Meanwhile, based on callers to my show, and  a glimpse of Twitter, you're pretty upset too.

Here's just one example:

This story will continue to develop. Don't miss a thing. Watch for the latest.

In fact, those of you who get our free daily briefing newsletter, received a special breaking news email on Friday afternoon and were among the first to know about the massive UW Slush Fund.

It's not too late to sign up to receive these free emails. Just click here.

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