With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, incredibly enough, having vaulted to the front of the GOP pack of 2016 Presidential hopefuls in Iowa and a number of other states, he'll undoubtedly (or, at least, hopefully) come under much more scrutiny on a national level for the kind of policies he's been carrying out back home. (And, additionally, as Brendan Fischer explains, "Rumors of the Walker [John Doe] Probe's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated")
One aspect of those policies was noticed by Jonas Persson and Mary Bottari at the Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch this week. It seems Walker, without publicly mentioning it during a recent speech on his newly proposed state budget, included $300 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin (UW) System along with some other troubling changes.
"The unprecedented cut, which amounts to 13 percent of the state funding for the university system and 2.5 percent of the total budget, accompanied by a tuition freeze will result in the defunding of scores of departments and jeopardize the livelihood of faculty and graduate students," PRWatch reports. The cuts come on the heels of Walker's tax breaks for the wealthy and cuts to social services which have left Wisconsin "32nd in the nation in new job growth," while "the state faces a $2.2 billion dollar deficit." Not helpful numbers when running for President (at least in a general, versus primary, election.)
"In a grim irony, the cut also comes amid reports that other states in the Midwest, such as Minnesota (which recently reported a $1.04 billion budget surplus), Indiana, Iowa and Ohio, are ramping up funding for its state universities, the Wisconsin State Journal reports."
PRWatch adds that, under Walker's proposed new structure for the UW System, "The Board of Regents appointed by the governor would be the governing body and the legislature and the public would have less of a role in protecting academic freedom and other statutory rights."
As much as some are alarmed by the restructuring and massive budget cuts to state education, a rather striking change to the UW System's written mission statement in the budget proposal has left some "nearly speechless", setting off arguably more controversy about what Walker, after being called on it, initially described as little more than "a drafting error"...