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UW surplus may grow

MADISON (WSAU-Wheeler News)   The University of Wisconsin’s total reserves could grow to one-point-two billion dollars by the end of the state’s fiscal year on June 30th. That’s what U-W President Kevin Reilly and two members of the Board of Regents told lawmakers yesterday. They said the total reserves could rise by $150-million for the current year.

Legislators from both parties were incensed a week ago, after learning that various U-W accounts had over a billion-dollars sitting in them – including $648-million in unrestricted reserves.

That’s after students have been paying five-and-a-half percent more for tuition each year, and Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposed a $181-million increase in tax funds for the U-W. Walker has since said he wants a smaller increase, but has not said how much.

Lawmakers say tuition should be frozen for the coming year – and Assembly Republican Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield says the tax subsidies should also be put on hold. Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend said the reserves are proof that the U-W will ask for more revenue whether it needs it or not. Senate President Mike Ellis said he thought the university was almost broke until now. U-W Regent Michael Falbo said the first goal of the excess funds should be to hold down tuition for students. He said there was not much talk about it previously, because the reserves had just recently grown dramatically. The U-W says its reserves demonstrate prudent financial management.