After absorbing bruising cuts in Gov. Scott Walker's first biennial budget, university and technical college officials said they're satisfied with the 2013-15 budget Walker unveiled Wednesday, which modestly increases higher education funding overall and rewards efforts already begun to offer flexible degree programs to working adults and tie some funding to courses and programs that boost employment and economic development.
"Gov. Walker recognizes and appreciates the role that UW institutions play in boosting our state's economy," said UW System President Kevin Reilly in a statement.
Key provisions of proposed funding for the University of Wisconsin System include:
• An overall increase of $181 million, the third highest boost behind health services and K-12 schools.
• $2 million in start-up funding for the system's flexible degree program. The budget earmarks funding for 13 jobs in the program.
• $20 million in incentive grants for projects that boost economic or workforce development or affordability.
Walker's budget calls for a shift in how technical colleges are funded, moving toward a model that ties general state aid increasingly to performance measures including graduation rates, job placement and focus on training workers in high-demand fields.
The budget would give the state system $5 million in fiscal year 2013-14 to begin implementing the change with the new model being phased in gradually starting in 2014-15, when 10 percent of general state aid would be performance-based.
"Gov. Walker has proposed a plan that will pay immediate dividends for Wisconsin employers and individuals seeking to improve their career opportunities," said Morna Foy, president of the state technical college system.
Other funding provisions for technical colleges include:
• An overall funding increase of $5 million.
• A requirement that universities and technical colleges make it more easy to transfer credits between all schools in both systems.