MADISON - Some leaders in the UW System are hoping to prevent UW-Madison from breaking away from the other UW schools.
System President Kevin Reilly has contacted the Governor's office with a plan that keeps the universities together, while giving each the operational freedom's offered to Madison, under Governor Scott Walker's proposed budget.
Walker wants to make the school a public authority, giving it more control of tuition, budgeting and other campus operations in his budget proposal.
But system leaders believe pulling one school from the system will harm all schools.
"Where the flagship has been separate they have tended to go pretty far and fast in terms of higher tuition and more out-of-state students, which winds up at some level displacing student from Wisconsin in their effort to get into Madison," Reilly said.
Reilly says the System's plan, the "Wisconsin Idea Partnership" is backed by the Board of Regents and all UW chancellors, except Madison's Biddy Martin.
"We strongly support keeping the system together and still giving our campuses the flexibility they need," regent Judy Crain said.
Martin was not available for comment on Friday, a mandated furlough day for the university, but has told FOX 11 the Governor's plan will help Madison compete with other high level research institutions.
"How can we create innovative possibilities that will help us at a campus level, all of us, deal the the extreme challenges that confront our students faculty and our staff," Martin said.
But are these "innovations" and "flexibilities" a veiled push for higher tuition?
Reilly told us no. He says tuition is part the equation and must go up, but it's also about avoiding duplicated services and wasteful programs.
"How can we, at a time when we need to be putting more and more of our money that we do have under the core educational mission, avoid spending dollars on red tape bureaucracy, hoops that we have to jump through for the state," Reilly said.
It's a question chancellors, regents and lawmakers will continue to debate as the budget moves forward.
The Board of Regents plans to discuss the matter at its meeting in April.
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