The idea has been suggested recently that the $300 million proposed UW System budget cut amounts to only a 2.5 percent cut in overall UW System funding– or that reserves should be used to offset the proposed cut. Both statements are incorrect. In reality, the Governor’s budget includes a 25 percent cut in state funding for essential educational functions, such as instruction and student advising and programming.
That funding is called General Purpose Revenue and UW-Madison would see a reduction from $279 million to about $220 million, in addition to other cuts to the university included in this budget. And while in the past the UW has used some of its fund balances to cushion the blow of budget cuts, in the last state budget legislators required the UW System to spend down tuition dollars being held in reserve. By the end of the last fiscal year UW-Madison had only $54 million in fund balances not already committed to other expenses – on a budget of almost $3 billion.
Unfortunately even using all of the discretionary reserves the UW has left would not cover the reduction in GPR in this budget.