Univ. of Wisconsin System accused of sitting on surplus

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A new government report shows the University of Wisconsin System has a positive balance of hundreds of millions of dollars. That's prompting several prominent lawmakers to ask why the UW System is asking for more taxpayer money -- and asking for more tuition increases.

A review by the Legislative Audit Bureau found the UW System had a $648.2 million balance. UW administrators say $441.2 million is spoken for.

The idea of a surplus at a time when system administrators have been complaining of harsh cuts is an outrage to State Sen. Glenn Grothman.

"There is nothing as wasteful as the University of Wisconsin System," said Grothman. "We ought to go back and undo the 11 percent tuition increase that was imposed two years ago."

Indeed, Gov. Scott Walker has called for a two-year tuition freeze -- and now Republicans who control the Legislature may make it difficult for the UW System to get any increase in taxpayer money.

Last year, UW System President Kevin Reilly told FOX6 News, tuition hikes were necessary because of state budget cuts.

""You cannot believe the University administration, you cannot believe the regents," said Grothman.

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee reacted with displeasure. UWM psychology major Danilee Armour is working two jobs just to pay her tuition bills.

"A lot of us we don't have parents that pay for everything. We have to do it on our own, and it's kind of hard," said Armour.

"A lot of college students in general are really hurting financially," said journalism major Sean Lyons.

That said, UW-Milwaukee Spokesperson Tom Luljak says his school is not sitting on a giant surplus.

"Here at UWM,  there is no hoarding of money that is taking place," said Luljak, who says the university has bills to pay too. "Much like anyone uses a check book at home, you have money at the beginning of the month and over the course of the month you're going to have bills that have to be paid. So if you're like me, you have far, far less money in that account than at the beginning," said Luljak.

Most state Democrats are taking a wait-and-see approach to this issue. But Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca's office tells FOX6 News, the surplus money came from students who pay tuition -- and in the end, must be used to benefit those students.