Gov. Walker calls for UW System tuition freeze

MADISON (WITI) -- Gov. Scott Walker has called for a tuition freeze in the University of Wisconsin System.

The UW System has increased tuition by 11 percent over the last two years, while a government report shows the system has a $648.2 million surplus.

"Without a doubt, we're going to put forward a freeze in tuition," said Governor Walker.

The governor also plans to change his original budget proposal. The UW System was set to receive a $181 million increase in state funding, however now it's likely that all but $20 million for economic development will be cut.

"That surplus could go to fill that and free up money for public school aid and other things that are high priorities," noted Walker.

Democrats have joined the call for a tuition freeze, sending a letter to the UW System signed by nearly 40 lawmakers. Board of Regents member Tracy Hribar says the state needs to develop a clear surplus policy.

"That isn't a bad thing to have that. That shows us in Wisconsin and I'm proud to be a part of this state that we value stewarding out money. We pay our bills. We don't like to go into debt," says Hribar.

Regent Jose Vasquez says the balance is in line with the standard reserves most university systems have. Besides that, he says it's good practice.

"We need to not lose sight that any good management organization is always being told you have to have a reserve and now the University System is being chastised for practicing precisely good management," says Vasquez.

Governor Walker says he'll deliver the changes to his budget to lawmakers within the week. Regents say they're working on a policy that will state exactly how large any balance can get.