UW-Platteville announced Monday it would be furloughing staff to address a projected multi-million budget shortfall. (UW-Platteville)
UW-Parkside and UW-Platteville announced on Monday they’re considering staff furloughs as both schools try to handle multi-million dollar budget shortfalls that are expected by the end of the fiscal year.
Platteville’s shortfall is projected to be $9.7 million and Parkside’s is $4 million, the universities’ chancellors said in Monday emails to staff.
The announcements came as the entire UW System deals with the compounding problems of declining enrollment, decreased state aid and rising costs. In his proposed budget earlier this year, Gov. Tony Evers wanted to use part of the state’s $7 billion surplus to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding for the system. Instead, in the budget Evers eventually signed into law, Republican lawmakers cut $32 million from the UW System budget. The state still has a $4 billion surplus and an additional $1.8 billion in its “rainy day fund.”
The furloughs at Parkside and Platteville came just weeks after UW-Oshkosh announced it will cut more than 200 non-faculty employees and staff this fall, while furloughing others, to deal with its own budget issues. Oshkosh’s budget shortfall is projected to be $18 million by the end of the fiscal year.
In May, the two-year branch campus at UW-Richland shut down to in-person classes as a result of dwindling enrollment.
In a statement, UW System President Jay Rothman said the decision to furlough employees is tough but necessary.
“Our universities are facing demographic, political and economic realities that require hard, though necessary decisions,” he said. “These actions we are forced to take represent missed opportunities for our students and families but are necessary given our circumstances.”
Ten of the UW System’s 13 four-year campuses are projected to run deficits for 2023-24.
The system’s campuses have become increasingly reliant on tuition dollars as the percentage of funding that comes from the state budget has declined. After a decade in which in-state tuition costs had been frozen, Rothman announced in March that tuition for resident undergraduates will increase next school year by an average of 5%.
After the furloughs were announced Monday, Democratic lawmakers accused Republican legislators of strangling the UW System out of political spite.
“Republicans chose to cut $32 million from the UW System’s budget — despite our $7 billion surplus,” Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) said in a statement. “They got what they wanted: staff losing their jobs, and our public university system once again suffering under GOP attacks. The UW System needs to be fully funded and should never have been put in this position.”
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Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the chancellors at UW-Parkside and UW-Platteville are considering furloughs and haven’t made a final decision.
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