Lawmakers restore some UW system cuts, critics say “it’s like squandering the investments we made before”

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MADISON -- The state's budget is back on center stage in Madison. The Joint Finance Committee is taking up the proposed cuts to the UW system.

The big announcement from republican lawmakers is their proposal restores $50 million in the UW budget.

Governor Walker proposed cutting around $300 million from the university system. Critics say the cuts are still too big, and it's an attack on professors.

On Wisconsin's 167th birthday, lawmakers debate how to fund the state's university system.

State Senator Alberta Darling compares the proposed $250 million cut to Act 10 -- one of the most divisive measures in state history.

"We had to deal with a tough economic time but what we did was enable school districts to deal with those cuts in a way that helped their bottom line," said Darling.

"There's nothing responsible about not investing in our people," said Democratic State Senator, Lena Taylor.

These proposed cuts haven't sparked the massive protests that followed Act 10 but there are sharp disagreements. Critics say the Republican Legislators' plan isn't much different from Governor Walker's proposal.

"When you only give $50 million back, you don't really address the issue. We need to fund the $300+ million that we've taken out," said Taylor.

The Joint Finance Committee co-chairs say the $50 million they're restoring will be directed toward campuses that can least afford cuts.

Democrat Senator Senator Lena Taylor says that means no relief for the largest schools in the system.

"Let's be clear, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and frankly, our UW system across the board -- they are academic partners for businesses and there are some dollars we already invested so really, it's like squandering the investments we made before," said Taylor.

Critics are also angry over language that would remove protections for tenured professors. The co-chairs say it's simply meant to give university officials flexibility.

"We believe in empowering the board of regents and the chancellors throughout the state of Wisconsin to be able to manage the system and this is a tool for them to be able to do that," said Republican State Representative, John Nygren.

Republicans on the committee say, ultimately, the cuts will not affect anyone's education.

"Students are gonna be at the center of that focus and we will see outcomes I think will be int he best interests of the students and they'll cope with the cuts," said Darling.