UW System Has Aging, Rundown Buildings
UW-Madison’s Van Hise Hall crumbling. Evers, Thompson push for capital budget funding.
The UW System has been trying to get the attention of the GOP-led legislature and State Building Commission for years. A 2019 UW System press release said: “Investments needed to repair, renovate aging UW System buildings”. Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ capital budget request two years ago was initially rejected by the State Building Commission and later slashed. The pattern repeated itself on March 17 (before the facade dropped) with another rejection of Evers’ capital budget, including $1 billion for UW System buildings. These almost unprecedented GOP-led rejections or delay will only increase costs.
On March 31 (before the facade dropped) Thompson testified before the GOP-led state Senate Committee on Universities: “I want to recharge the Wisconsin Idea, the notion that the University has the responsibility to serve beyond the borders of our campuses. At its core, the UW System is about helping to solve Wisconsin’s problems.” He outlined how the UW System has responded to the pandemic on and off campuses – testing, opening up vaccine clinics and and using over 1,000 UW nursing and healthcare students to test and vaccinate.
Thompson also made a pitch for the capital budget request: “$1.3 billion in capital budget authority … . It is focused on repairing, renovating and replacing obsolete facilities at our universities. … Despite being a public university that directly serves the people of Wisconsin, we receive just 17% of our support from the State of Wisconsin.” It’s long overdue for the GOP-led legislature to step up.
NorthStar Analytics and previous studies have pointed out how UW-Madison is a major force in Wisconsin’s economy, creating over 200,000 jobs, paying $1 billion in taxes and sparking high technology startups. This is also true for UW-Milwaukee and other campuses. Thompson will make sure that state residents know that the UW System is an economic engine, but needs an infrastructure upgrade. He has no ambition except to help all of Wisconsin.
This column was originally published by Wispolitics.com.
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