, , , , , , , , ,

Walker Discusses Tuition Cut, Possible Judge Pay Raises During Stops Throughout State

UW Schools Won't Lose Money In Tuition Cut, Walker Says Day After Announcing Proposal

Scott Walker
Andy Manis/AP Photo

The day after giving his annual State of the State address, Gov. Scott Walker hit the road Wednesday to discuss his agenda for the upcoming year. Walker made stops in La Crosse, Eau Claire, Green Bay and Milwaukee.

Wednesday morning in La Crosse, Walker said his proposal to cut undergraduate tuition for Wisconsin residents at University of Wisconsin System schools would not come out of the system’s budget.

The plan to reduce in-state tuition was introduced in Tuesday’s address. Walker said the cut would not mean less money for the UW System.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“We will put additional money in to cover the cost of the tuition cut. As well, we’ll be putting additional money into the UW System overall, but the idea with that is I want to tie it into performance,” Walker said.

Walker said he wants to tie funding to metrics like graduation rates and how many years it takes students to complete their degrees. He also wants to evaluate schools on employment rates for their graduates and how many remain in Wisconsin.

“We want to make sure that at least for new money we’re putting in, that part of those performance metrics will be tied into how many people are getting an education in the area of high demand and in turn how many are staying in the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said.

Walker did not provide specifics about where additional funding would come from in the 2017-19 budget, but said the state’s economy is healthy.

We continue to grow the economy, so there’s more money coming in even though taxes have gone down,” Walker said.

Undergraduate tuition for Wisconsin residents attending UW System schools has been frozen for four years. The UW System’s requesting $42.5 million funding increase in the 2017-19 budget.

The governor is expected to release more details about the funding measures during his budget address expected sometime in February.

On Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee, Walker acknowledged the possibility of pay raises for Wisconsin judges and some other state public employees. The governor said it’s something he is willing to consider.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack is asking for a 16 percent pay hike for members of the state’s high court, as well as for appellate and circuit judges.

“We respect the Supreme Court and Chief Justice for their request,” Walker said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of requests for increases overall for state employees. It’s certainly something we want to look at.”

Meanwhile, Walker said prosecutors and the attorney general are making convincing arguments for a pay progression plan.

“To increase at least the amount not overall, but at least the early entry levels that prosecutors get to keep more assistant district attorneys in the state,” Walker said.

With so many other state budget priorities, the fate of the pay raise proposals won’t be known for months, the governor said.

He also said more state money may go to Milwaukee to help fight crime.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is asking for more state shared revenue to help sustain an increase in the number of police officers in the city. Barrett said many experts believe a greater police presence can help reduce violent crime. The mayor and governor haven’t always gotten along, but Walker said he’ll look at the request.

“Whether it’s in shared revenue, or it might be there’s another grant program that has been targeted toward high crime municipalities across the state, for which obviously Milwaukee would be eligible, that would be another option out there that I’ve talked with some in Milwaukee about as well,” Walker said.