Even Conservative Icon Tommy Thompson Is Getting Frustrated With State Republican Legislators


Thompson Strikes Defiant Tone When Discussing Need For Legislature To Invest In State Universities.

By Rich Kremer
Wisconsin Public Radio (8/21/20)

University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson is striking a defiant tone in his quest to rebuild trust between Republican state lawmakers and state universities. He says the UW System is being micromanaged and “kept down” by the Wisconsin state Legislature.

Since beginning his interim-term as UW System President, Thompson has become increasingly vocal about what he sees as a bruised relationship between the UW System and the Republican controlled state Assembly and state Senate. During a UW Board of Regents meeting, Thompson told the Regents lawmakers have been micromanaging the state’s 13 universities and their branch campuses.

“They don’t trust us,” Thompson said. “They don’t trust the university and therefore they feel it’s their responsibility to keep us down. And, we have, as a system, been apologizing and I don’t want to apologize anymore.”

Thompson’s first budget as interim-UW System President includes a free tuition program for students from low income families, and an expansion of a student loan forgiveness program for graduates entering into teaching professions. To do this, Thompson seeks an additional $95.7 million in state funding, which works out to a 3.5 percent increase, and legislative approval for a UW System line of credit.

During a Q&A with the Milwaukee Press Club on Friday, Thompson said not having the ability to borrow without legislative approval is unique to the UW System.

“Vocational schools have it,” said Thompson. “Every university in the country have it. The University of Wisconsin is the only school that can’t get a line of credit.”

The proposal for a line of credit is not a new idea. Former UW System President Ray Cross sought the same borrowing authority in June when he sent a letter to Gov. Tony Evers requesting a special session to help the UW System weather the COVID-19 crisis that caused more than $200 million in revenue losses for the state’s colleges. …

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(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2020. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )