State Republicans will cut the University of Wisconsin’s budget by $32 million, the estimated total the institution was expected to spend on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, according to The Associated Press.
Wisconsin Republican lawmakers announced Thursday that they will be cutting the university’s budget for DEI initiatives from the state’s 2023-25 budget, according to the AP. The university can earn the funding back if they show the lawmakers they are focusing on workforce development programs instead of DEI initiatives. (RELATED: Entire University System To No Longer Require ‘Diversity Statements’ From Applicants)
“For people on the left, DEI has become their new religion,” Republican state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the AP ahead of the decision. “They no longer go to church on Sunday, but boy, are they trying to make sure everybody is evangelized on campus, that’s there only one acceptable viewpoint. That’s not what I think taxpayers should be funding.”
The state lawmakers delayed the vote earlier in June after Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers threatened to veto the entire state budget if the $32 million for DEI programs was slashed, the AP reported. University of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman warned that cutting the university’s budget in any capacity could cause tuition to rise or cause some of its campuses to shut down.
In June, Rothman hired a new chief diversity officer who is making $225,000 per year, the AP reported. DEI employees of the university make a total of $15.6 million annually.Throughout the country, lawmakers are moving to axe university’s DEI programs. Since March, 26 pieces of legislation targeting mandatory DEI training or DEI-centered offices have been filed in 15 states. In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law prohibiting DEI offices and initiatives at higher education institutions.
“They need to refocus their priorities on being partners on developing our workforce and the future of the state and we’re hopeful that they’re going to be ready to do that as we move forward,” Republican state Rep. Mark Born told the AP.
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