Martin not giving up on UW split despite lack of support - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Martin not giving up on UW split despite lack of support from GOP lawmakers


MADISON (WKOW) -- A leading Republican lawmaker says there is not enough support among legislators to pass Governor Scott Walker's proposal to split off Madison from the rest of the UW system, but UW chancellor Biddy Martin remains confident the split will go through.

Governor Walker's proposal would make UW Madison a public authority separating it from the UW system. UW leaders say the move would allow them to face the $125 million budget reduction also in the governor's 2011-2013 budget.

Chancellor Martin says universities need autonomy. Martin says, "Wisconsin cannot afford to lose what the rest of the world is rushing to establish."

Chancellor Martin gave a passionate plea to the Madison rotary club. She say UW Madison is one of the top research universities in the world and unique with in the UW system.

She says UW Madison can't continue to compete with world class universities if it's fenced in.

Martin responded to reports the Governor's proposal is losing support in the Capitol. Republican Representative Robin Vos (R-Burlington) tells 27 News there are not enough votes to make the change.

Martin says, "I think Rep. Vos is right that there are not enough votes because legislators are focused on entirely different issues. They're just now starting to get informed, thinking through the issue. I'm confident once they have the time and hear amount of support there is certainly all over this look at merits itself, I'm confident they'll see the importance of it."

UW Chancellor Biddy Martin has supported Governor Scott Walker's proposal from the beginning. She says a UW split would give Madison more flexibility to run it's own operations.

Martin says, "If you treat a major research University with the same policies, priorities and initiatives that you set for two year campuses, four year campuses and others, you're fencing it in."

But opponents argue splitting off UW Madison from the rest of the flagship universities is a mistake. Representative Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater) says the split will increase tuition at Madison and limit access to Wisconsin students.

Rep. Nass says, "I believe they will eventually lift limits on out of state students that can come in here which means fewer students from Wisconsin can go to campuses. I think it will become more expensive over time and basically middle class students will be pushed out of UW Madison."

Rep. Nass says, "This is a huge issue and they ought to have the time of day to digest it and do it right if we're going to do it at all." Rep. Nass has proposed pulling Governor Walker's plan out of the budget. He says he wants to propose the Senate and Assembly Committees on Higher Education review the proposal in total.

Martin says tuition would not increase any more than if it stayed in the system. She says UW Madison is one of the top research universities in the world and is unique in the UW system.

Martin says, "You have to unleash us so we can compete. We will not be able to compete in this environment if things stay the way they are. The status quo is not an option."

Chancellor Martin says she has proposed an amendment to Governor Walker's plan giving the other flagship universities more flexibility.

A spokesperson for Representative Vos says he personally favors increased flexibility for all universities but, the overall feeling among legislators is they don't want UW Madison to be an independently run authority.

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