Wisconsin Republicans are withholding university pay raises in a heated dispute over school diversity, equity and inclusion funding. Here’s the full story.
In a contentious struggle over diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) spending within the University of Wisconsin system, Republican leaders in the Wisconsin Legislature have chosen to withhold pay raises for university employees while approving raises for other state workers.
$32 Million Cut
This dispute centers on the demand to cut $32 million from the university’s DEI budget, sparking heated debates and criticism from various quarters. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who co-chairs the Legislature’s employment relations committee, is at the forefront of this contentious issue.
Vos has pledged to block pay raises for University of Wisconsin employees until the school system trims its DEI spending by $32 million. This decision has led to a divide within the legislative body, with some advocating for pay increases while others prioritize the reduction in DEI spending.
Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, expressed his disapproval of the decision, characterizing it as “dumb.” He emphasized the need to grant pay raises to university employees, citing the Legislature’s prior approval of these raises.
Last Minute Decision
Evers was critical of the last-minute decision to withhold these raises, stating that it was unjust to let one person’s resistance to inclusion influence such a decision.
No Schedule Set
While the committee could potentially vote later to approve pay raises for University of Wisconsin employees, no schedule has been set for such a decision. The delay in this matter has left faculty and staff members in a state of uncertainty, affecting tens of thousands of families.
Republican Funding Cut
During the budget development in June, Republicans cut the University of Wisconsin’s funding by $32 million, a figure they estimated was equal to what the university system allocated for DEI efforts over a two-year period.
Attempted Veto Unsuccessful
Despite Governor Evers’ efforts to preserve 188 DEI positions at the university through a veto, the funding reduction was maintained. The approved budget included pay raises of 4% for state employees this year and an additional 2% for the next year.
While the employee relations committee endorsed these raises for state workers, it excluded the university system’s approximately 36,000 full-time employees from the approval.
Openness Alongside Concerns
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has shown some openness to granting pay raises for University of Wisconsin employees under certain conditions. However, he also expressed concerns about the university system’s ability to create its own positions, including those related to DEI.
No Ideological Agenda
Vos is keen on ensuring that there is no imposition of ideological agendas within the university system. Jay Rothman, President of the University of Wisconsin, emphasized that the committee’s decision not to vote on pay raises for university employees is unprecedented and deeply unjust to faculty and staff families. The status of negotiations between university officials and lawmakers remains undisclosed.
No Vote Scheduled
Senator Howard Marklein, a Republican member of the committee, departed from Vos’s stance on this issue. He expressed his disappointment that the University of Wisconsin pay increases were not scheduled for a vote, asserting that local employees at the campuses should not face penalties for policy decisions made by university system leaders.
The clash in Wisconsin is emblematic of a larger cultural battle that is unfolding across the United States concerning diversity initiatives within colleges and universities. Several Republican-led states have proposed bills similar to the one in Wisconsin, reflecting the broader national debate about diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.
No Hand Outs
Online the news has divided opinion. One commenter posted “Very good, it’s time to shut down all of this left-wing liberal socialist garbage. Time to make America strong again and stop catering to the weak and lazy that want everything handed to them.”
Another commenter added, in a post with tens of likes, “Any government funded or government programs or systems that provide favoritism or discriminates based on color, race, and ethnicity is institutional racism. I thought the democrats were against that.”
Small Minded Policies
However, others online were against the proposed cut in funding. One user lamented the decision, posting “Once again, a minority are attempting to force their small-minded regressive policies on the majority. The legislative advantage Republicans have in WI is due to gerrymandering, NOT overall voter support.”
Old Man Yells at Cloud
Another person noted their displeasure with some humor, posting “MAGAs make me think of an old man on his porch yelling and shaking his fist at those no-good teenagers!”
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