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Assembly Leaders At Odds Over Permanent UW Tuition Cap Idea

Vos Says He's Amenable, Barca Emphasizes Restored Funding

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Shawn Johnson/WPR

The Republican leader of the State Assembly said he’s open to creating a permanent tuition cap at the University of Wisconsin System. But his Democratic counterpart said he fears the UW may not recover for decades if Gov. Scott Walker gets what he wants in this state budget.

Walker’s budget would cut the university’s state funding by $300 million, freeze in-state tuition for another two years, and give the UW more freedom to handle its own money in future years. But during a trip to London this week, Walker said that he’d consider adding a permanent tuition cap, possibly one tied to the Consumer Price Index.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he would be open to some kind of a permanent cap.

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“I don’t know what that should be, should it be a little bit greater than inflation since higher education is going up faster than CPI? Perhaps. So I’m open to any of those concepts, but I certainly don’t support the idea of giving this new authority unfettered ability to raise tuition,” the Rochester Republican said.

Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said it’s great to limit tuition but only if the state invests in higher education.

“You know, the plan Democrats support would be to either hold down or freeze tuition, but only if we don’t cripple the universities. Scott Walker is destroying, in my judgement, one of the greatest college systems in the country, if not in the world,” said Barca.

Vos said he wants to reduce the size of the cuts to the UW if state revenues are better than expected this year.