LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- One of the least controversial points in Governor Walker's budget proposal is an increase in funding for the University of Wisconsin system.
Walker's budget includes a $181 million increase for state schools, compared to the $250 million in cuts the last biennial budget.
"Tuition increases in the past have been based on that we've had cuts in our budget," said Brent Smith, the president of the UW Board of Regents.
For the last decade or so, tuition at UW schools increased about 5.5 percent each year. However, an increase funding should ease the hikes in the price of attendance.
"There's a good chunk of that that's spoken for. The block grant, which is the discretionary, is about $89 million," Smith said. "And that's where we're going to have to get together and talk about is there room for increases in compensation, how much do we need for tuition."
Smith says he thinks the next tuition increase will be significantly less than 5.5 percent.
"To keep our students coming and enrolled, tuition is a factor," Smith said. "We should never become, especially a public institution, being one where you're ability to get in is based on your economic status."
And while the Governor's budget still has to go through the legislature, the UW funding has some bipartisan support.
"We're not longer competing with Midwestern colleges and universities; we're competing on a global level," said Rep. Steve Doyle (D-94th Assembly District). "It's really good news the governor is increasing funding for higher education because they took such a hit last time."
Once the budget is finalized, the Board of Regents will make decisions about how to utilize the funds, and a decision about tuition will probably be made in June.
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