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Vos says he’ll attempt to stop pay raises for 34,000 UW employees until universities cut DEI programs

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Vos says he’ll attempt to stop pay raises for 34,000 UW employees until universities cut DEI programs

Sep 19, 2023 | 6:01 pm ET
By Henry Redman
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Vos says he’ll attempt to stop pay raises for 34,000 UW employees until universities cut DEI programs
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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) answered question at a press conference ahead of Assembly Republicans passing the budget bill on June 29, 2023. (Baylor Spears | Wisconsin Examiner)

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) says he’ll attempt to withhold pay raises from tens of thousands of employees at UW System schools unless the universities cut positions aimed at diversity, equity and inclusion on campuses. 

Vos said last week in an interview with WisPolitics, “I don’t think that they [UW System] deserve to have any more resources until they accomplish the goal.” Earlier this year, Vos and his fellow Republican lawmakers backed a provision in the state budget that cut $32 million from the UW System and would have eliminated 188 DEI-related positions. 

Gov. Tony Evers saved the jobs with a line-item veto, but the $32 million cut remained in the budget he signed into law. 

Vos said on Friday that he wouldn’t give another nickel to the UW System until DEI programs are eliminated. 

Lawmakers of both parties have already approved pay raises of 4% in fiscal year 2024 and 2% in 2025. Altogether, Vos is threatening to withhold $107.6 million in funding. 

A spokesperson for Evers said that Republicans are threatening to keep millions of dollars out of the pockets of Wisconsinites over programs that are regularly offered by private businesses and that Democrats argue are standard workforce development practices. 

“Republicans are holding UW System funding hostage over their efforts to help attract and retain talent — efforts that have long been heralded by the private sector, including some of Wisconsin’s largest employers, WMC, and local chambers of commerce,” the spokesperson, Britt Cudaback, said in a statement. “Republicans are more focused on playing political games with Wisconsinites’ livelihoods, continuing their decade-long war on higher education, and making it harder to recruit and retain talented workers than finding real solutions to our state’s shrinking labor force. It’s ridiculous, it’s wrong-headed, and it’s clear Republicans are completely out of touch with the very real and pressing workforce challenges facing our state.” 

Republican budget cuts at UW campuses have already resulted in several System schools announcing plans to furlough or lay off non-faculty staff members.