Dem Gov Signs Off On State Budget That Defunds University System Over DEI

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Reagan Reese Contributor
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Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed a two-year budget Wednesday that defunds the state university’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

In June, state Republican lawmakers announced that they would be cutting $32 million allotted to the University of Wisconsin for DEI initiatives from the state’s 2023-25 budget. Evers previously threatened to veto the budget if it did not include the DEI funding for the University of Wisconsin, according to The Associated Press. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: GOP Senators Introduce Bill Banning Higher Ed Accreditors From Considering ‘Diversity’ Initiatives)

“For people on the left, DEI has become their new religion,” Republican state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the AP in June. “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 budget signed by Evers allows the university to earn the funding back if they show lawmakers they have been focusing on workforce development programs instead of DEI initiatives. Evers used a partial veto on the state budget, allowing the university to keep its 188 DEI positions and offices, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Ahead of the state lawmakers’ decision, University of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman warned that cutting the university’s budget could cause some of its campuses to shut down or make tuition rise.

Rothman hired a new chief diversity officer in June who is making an annual salary of $225,000, the AP reported. In total, University of Wisconsin DEI employees make $15.6 million annually.

Lawmakers across the country are taking action against DEI programs within universities. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law in June prohibiting DEI offices and initiatives at higher education institutions. In May, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a piece of legislation that prohibits public colleges and universities from spending taxpayer dollars on DEI programs.

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