UW-Eau Claire will be building a state-of-the-art science facility on campus, and Chancellor James Schmidt couldn’t be more pleased.
“Phillips Hall’s days are numbered, and I look forward to beginning the planning and design process for this new building as soon as possible,” Schmidt said in a statement on Wednesday.
Schmidt said a new science and health sciences building “will allow our master collaborative research agreement with Mayo Clinic Health System to flourish. Together, and with this investment from the state of Wisconsin, UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic are poised to tackle pressing research questions and needs for innovation in rural health care.”
The state budget signed by Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday included $109 million for the first phase of the science building at UW-Eau Claire to replace the aging Phillips Science Hall, plus $1 million for advance planning of the project’s second phase. The budget also provided for infrastructure updates at UW-Eau Claire and renovation monies for Haas Fine Arts Center.
Both Schmidt and UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer was pleased the budget included 2 percent salary increases for eligible UW System employees, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021. Meyer called the salary increases his top priority for the budget cycle.
UW-Stout also will receive $35 million for remodeling South Hall residence hall.
But Meyer, who is retiring next month, was disappointed in the level of state aid UW-Stout will receive in the budget.
“The $45 million approved by the Legislature was less than half the governor proposed and comes with more restrictions,” Meyer said. “Coupled with a continued tuition freeze, this will make navigating the fiscal landscape of 2019-21 extremely difficult.”
Chippewa Valley lawmakers reacted along party lines to Evers signing the state budget with 78 partial-vetoes.
Rep. Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire, praised Evers’ vetoes “to help shaped a flawed budget” approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
“One benefit is the increase of nearly $100 million in education over the biennium. This will allow us to make investments in our children a priority and will be a huge boost to our public education system,” she said.
State Sen. Jeff Smith, D-town of Brunswick, said Evers “did what the voters elected him to do last fall by shielding the people with his veto pen. Protecting clean water, providing an additional $90 million for our students and preserving local control were the most notable gains.”
State Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, said she was pleased Evers signed the majority of the budget, but was “deeply disappointed” he removed funding for expanded mental health treatment in west-central Wisconsin.
“The funding was meant for HSHS Sacred Heart and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospitals to provide critical mental health services for adolescents and adults in northern, central and western Wisconsin; instead Governor Evers is sending it back to Madison,” Bernier said in a statement. “I am frustrated by the decision but I will continue fighting to get these critical mental health services back in our area.”
Rep. Warren Petryk, R-Eleva, also criticized Evers’ veto of the “much-needed Regional Mental Health Crisis Center.”
Petryk said his constituents in the 93rd Assembly District didn’t support Evers’ original budget proposal. He said the Legislature sent the governor a “thoughtful, responsible budget, which he signed. ...”