MADISON, Wis. - Students and the state's university system are applauding Gov. Tony Evers' spending plans for higher education, but parts of the proposal will likely be met with criticism from conservatives.
University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross said in a statement that Evers "understands an investment in higher education is vital to growing Wisconsin's talent pipeline, improving lives, and providing Wisconsinites opportunities to earn higher wages."
The full budget proposal, which Evers is set to release Thursday, would continue to freeze tuition for in-state students at universities that are part of the UW System and boost funding for the system by $150 million.
Republican Rep. John Nygren, who chairs the state's budget committee, tweeted about Evers' plans Sunday, saying he "continues to make a bipartisan budget nearly impossible."
News 3 Now asked in-state students how they feel about Evers' proposal. They all said they would like to see the tuition freeze continue. It was put in place by Republican lawmakers in 2013.
Maggie Godfrey, a sophomore at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said financial problems are often top of mind.
"That's something that I kind of worry about constantly as a student is debt and something that I think we shouldn't have to worry about, and I think that education should be more accessible to everyone, no matter what their financial situation is," Godfrey said.
While the tuition freeze wouldn't directly affect UW-Madison senior Nate Bodart, he knows it would affect the lives of many students around him.
"I think anytime you can lower the cost of higher education, it's probably a good thing," Bodart said.
It’s time we start reinvesting in the UW System. With an additional $150,000,000 in funding over two years, we’re going to support campuses across our state and keep the Wisconsin Idea strong. pic.twitter.com/v7oAEuQpbG— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) February 24, 2019
One of the more controversial parts of the plan would allow undocumented immigrants who are Wisconsin residents to pay in-state tuition rates at University of Wisconsin System schools and schools that are part of the Wisconsin Technical College System.
The plan is likely to draw criticism from Republican lawmakers. During the campaign, former Gov. Scott Walker criticized Evers for his promise to allow students who were children when their parents brought them into the U.S. without legal permission to pay in-state tuition rates. The budget proposal takes that idea a step further.
Julio Gumeta, an organizer for the group Voces de la Frontera, supports the idea and said it would affect students like him.
"There's really nothing that makes us any different than citizens that have lived here their entire lives and -- to me, at least -- it's ridiculous that we have to pay more (for tuition)," Gumeta said.
He said that, in addition to lowering the cost of college, Evers' plan would provide him more choices in where he could get an education.
"This would be great for me. I would have the freedom and opportunity to view a lot more schools than I do now," said Gumeta, who currently attends Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The proposal also provides $40.4 million for a 2 percent pay increase for UW System employees and $50,000 for a student loan refinancing authority study run by the state.
The offices of Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said they were unavailable for comment.
A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Technical College System said officials were not prepared to comment until after Evers introduces the full budget Thursday.
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