MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers announced a push Friday calling on the Legislature to approve more funding for the Universities of Wisconsin.  

Evers called it the largest increase in state support for the university system in more than two decades.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Tony Evers announced a push for the Legislature to approve funding for the Universities of Wisconsin

  • Evers' announcement comes one day after the Universities of Wisconsin released findings of financial health reports of its campuses

  • Those reports detail a roughly $440 million deficit
  • Reports for seven campuses are now public

His announcement came one day after the Universities of Wisconsin released findings of financial health reports done across its campuses, excluding the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is not facing a structural budget deficit.  

At least seven of those reports are complete, including Green Bay, Whitewater, Oshkosh, River Falls, Parkside, Platteville and Superior. They detailed a roughly $440 million deficit, which Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman said is needed to get the university system “just to the median level of funding.”

Rothman has cited declining enrollment and a decade-long tuition freeze as the primary reasons for the budget shortfalls. In his latest statement Thursday, he also cited “declining state support over the last decade on an inflation-adjusted basis.”  

He said the state now supports approximately 18% of Universities of Wisconsin’s total budget, while tuition revenue accounts for 23%.  

“While we will do our part on the expense side of the ledger, ultimately it is up to the state to decide whether it wants and can afford a weakened Universities of Wisconsin,” Rothman said.

“The consequences of Republicans’ actions and inaction over the last decade-plus were laid bare in these financial assessments,” Evers said in a statement Friday.

The Universities of Wisconsin paid just under $3 million to third-party company Deloitte to conduct the financial health assessments.  

AFT-Wisconsin, the state’s teachers’ union, has long argued that Deloitte provides a one-size-fits-all model without looking at each campus individually, nor consulting with faculty and staff. 

AFT-Wisconsin released a statement Thursday, after the reports were made public. It said, in part, “The Deloitte report, which was conducted by an outside consultant without leveraging the wide-ranging research expertise of faculty and staff in the UW system, is an illustrative example of why it is essential that campus administrations do the right thing and meet with their faculty and staff unions.”

Evers said he would make this funding request in his next state budget proposal, which traditionally happens in February. The current budget runs through June 2025. That means if approved, the new funding would be available shortly before the start of the 2025-26 academic year.

Over the past year, the Universities of Wisconsin announced hundreds of layoffs at several of its campuses due to budget constraints, including at Oshkosh, Parkside, Platteville and Green Bay.  

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay also announced the potential elimination of several majors and minors. 

Spectrum News 1 reached out to Speaker Robin Vos’s office for comment on Evers’ announcement. He has not responded.