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UW Regents meet to figure out how to fix budget shortfall

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - The UW Board of Regents will start trying to figure out Thursday how to deal with a surprise shortfall in its budget for the coming year.

The state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee recently took a meat ax to a proposed increase in the university’s budget. That’s after we learned in late April that the campuses were sitting on $650 million in reserves, after the UW blamed funding shortages for a 5.5 percent tuition increase in each of the last six years.

The university says the committee’s actions will cause a $61 million shortfall in its budget for next year.

At their meeting in Milwaukee Thursday, the Regents will quiz UW officials on how to address the drop in state funds.

Last month, the state’s finance panel rejected a $181 million increase in state funds proposed by Governor Scott Walker for the next two years. The committee also wiped out a 2 percent tuition hike, and ordered the first tuition freeze in the system’s 42-year history.

Walker’s been highlighting that freeze in visits to UW campuses around the state.

Also, lawmakers ordered the UW to use its reserves to pay for $90 million in planned expenses. They also refused to go along with a plan to give the university more autonomy over its finances, saying the Legislature needs to provide more scrutiny – not less.