Area Lawmakers Question State Funding for University Building Projects - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Area Lawmakers Question State Funding for University Building Projects


Eau Claire (WQOW) - A proposal by the governor has lawmakers in the Chippewa Valley wondering if he's leaving western Wisconsin out in the cold.

The UW System has recommended that UW-Eau Claire's plan to update its education building be given priority for state funding. But the governor is recomending $240 million worth of projects for UW-Milwaukee's campus. As a result, UWEC's project was taken off the list.

"I always drive in the morning and I always see the cranes in the distance at Luther Hospital. And it's like gee, maybe someday we'll get some cranes on our campus and actually build something new," says UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich.

Levin-Stankevich says it's been 27 years since the state funded a building project on UWEC's campus.

"I don't think anyone else can make that claim," added Levin-Stankevich. "Now it's going to be 29 years before we even talk about beginning construction on a building."

That has raised some red flags for area lawmakers.

"Areas like the Chippewa Valley and the areas I represent are getting the scraps," says Rep. Scott Suder.

"The numbers are against us, there are more legislators from the southeast side of the state," says Rep. Kathleen Vinehout.  "The building commission for many many years has been dominated by legislators from the southeast part of the state. And we're trying to turn around a freight train."

Last year UWEC did receive $1 million from the state to hire an architect and begin planning for a new education building. But the question now is when will construction begin.

"It's a huge disappointment for Eau Claire. It's a setback, but it's not the end of the game," says Vinehout.

"I've asked the governor directly, and many have about the distribution of resources around the state. And I can only assume the governor is going to be true to his commitment to make sure all of Wisconsin benefits," says Levin-Stankevich.

The governor's recomendation doesn't mean the projects on UW-Milwaukee's campus will receive funding in this budget. It basically means the state has committed to the funding. Doyle's recomendations still have to be approved by the state plan commission.

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