MADISON - Wisconsin legislative leaders are considering a task force to study the idea of letting U-W Madison run itself, separate from the rest of the university system.
Campus lobbyist Don Nelson confirmed today that the proposal is dead for the next state budget – and talks are continuing with lawmakers on giving Madison at least some flexibility to control its expenses. Republican finance chairman Robin Vos said a few weeks ago there was no way the so-called “public authority” option for Madison campus would get into the state budget, as Governor Scott Walker had proposed. Walker supported Chancellor Biddy Martin’s plans to create a special board to run the state’s flagship campus – and to give it flexibility to control purchases and set its own tuition. Martin said it would have helped U-W Madison deal with a $125-million cut in state aid during the next two years.
Legislative Republicans never embraced Martin’s idea, after other U-W campuses asked for the same independence. At least one lawmaker feared that tuition would skyrocket, and price out many Wisconsin students. Nelson says there are several ideas to replace the “public authority” plan – but none have gained a real consensus.