Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Governor Doyle Urges Legislature to Support UW-Oshkosh in Special Session

OSHKOSH – Governor Jim Doyle today urged the Legislature to support the Growth Agenda for UW-Oshkosh during a Special Session of the full Legislature on a compromise budget bill on Monday, October 15. The compromise budget bill will move forward on crucial construction projects on the UW-Oshkosh campus – including new residence halls, remodeling and additions to the Elmwood Center, new academic buildings, and other important improvements to the campus.

“Every additional day that the Republican leaders play politics and ignore their responsibility, real people suffer,” Governor Doyle said. “I know there are Assembly Republicans who share our vision to grow UW-Oshkosh, and will not stand in the way of a budget any longer. If the Legislature has not come to an agreement by Monday, then I expect both houses to pass this compromise bill – because Wisconsin families cannot afford to wait any longer.”

As part of the Special Session, the Governor will introduce a new compromise budget bill that will reflect exactly where negotiations were before Republican leaders made clear they never really wanted a budget. The compromise budget bill will fund UW-Oshkosh’s Growth Agenda, and fund financial aid for students and veterans.

The bill will cut spending by $430 million and eliminate $300 million of new revenue.

The compromise bill will remove all the non-fiscal policy items in both the Assembly and the Senate versions that were not agreed to by both sides. It will fund Wisconsin's priorities and cut taxes for middle class families. It will ensure quality education for our schools, provide a new investment in our universities, and ensure health care access to 98 percent of Wisconsin citizens.

After weeks of give and take, there was progress on both sides as they moved toward an agreement. Senate Democrats were willing to give up their health plan, cut $430 million in spending, and take the real estate transfer fee and combined reporting off the table. The Assembly Republicans were willing to accept the $1.25 tobacco tax, back away from their massive cuts to public schools, and drop some of their other draconian cuts as well. We thought they were making progress.

Yet whenever negotiations got to a point where an agreement could easily be reached, extreme voices in the Republican caucus let out a howl and the leaders shy away. Now they’ve backed away even farther. They are no longer willing to accept a $1.25 cigarette tax and are reviving their extreme cuts to Wisconsin’s priorities.

Extreme Republicans still want to cut the university by $60 million, slash financial aid by $20 million, cut aid to veterans by another $6.5 million, and eliminate our new efforts to reduce smoking in Wisconsin.

The Governor wants to put this state on a permanent path of fiscal stability, grow UW-Oshkosh, and harness all of the Fox Valley’s potential to thrive. But extreme Republicans are playing politics with this region’s future.

The state has operated without a new budget since July 1. The Legislature’s failure to pass a budget is affecting tax payers, students, and residents across the state. Currently, 5,544 university students are on waiting lists for financial aid. The expansion of the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center for sex offenders may be delayed without a budget, and dozens of important road projects may be postponed or cancelled.

Without a budget, university students could face a tuition surcharge of over $800. If the Department of Public Instruction cannot use a new budget to determine aid levels by next Monday, local schools will be forced to either lay off teachers or raise property taxes.

At the Department of Corrections, a $370 million shortfall will create dangerous conditions for security officers and citizens by forcing modified lockdowns and preventing the state from using GPS technology to monitor child sex offenders. These and many other state programs are threatened by the lack of a new budget, and Wisconsin residents and families will suffer as a result. For these reasons, not passing a budget is not an option.


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