MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A new Legislative Fiscal Bureau report shows the University of Wisconsin System will finish the current fiscal year with nearly $650 million sitting in reserve, including $414.1 million in surplus tuition dollars.
The bureau released a memo Friday saying the tuition surplus was $212.8 million as of mid-2009. Base tuition across the system's four-year schools has gone up 5.5 percent annually since then.
Republican legislative leaders issued a statement blasting system administrators. They questioned how the system could justify raising tuition over the last few years in light of the surplus and vowed to include a two-year freeze on tuition in the 2013-15 state budget.
"We welcome a conversation about the appropriate levels of fund balances, how those funds should be used to benefit students and the state, and what level of unrestricted reserves should be maintained as we manage a complex higher education enterprise in uncertain times," said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly.
"It is very concerning to learn the UW System has been running a surplus balance of this size, especially at a time when students, families, and lawmakers have continually heard from the UW System about the need for more money to offset 'devastating cuts'," said Governor Scott Walker. "At a minimum, on behalf of students and their families, I am asking legislative leaders to freeze tuition increases for two years for the entire UW System during their deliberations on the budget."