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Thursday, November 4, 2010

 10:58 AM 

Walker asks UW Regents for help in resolving budget deficit

Gov.-elect Scott Walker told the UW Board of Regents this morning that he'll be looking to them for help in resolving the state's budget deficit while maintaining one of "the best university systems in the world."

"It isn't just always about more money," Walker told the board, saying he will need UW campuses to be flexible, creative and innovative in how they use their funding as the state faces a deficit already nearing $3 billion.

Walker said he'd toured all but one of the UW's campuses during the campaign and joked that he was tempted to look at potential spots for his high school-age sons during his stops visits. The Milwaukee County exec lauded the regents' work on veterans issues and said he shares their goal of increasing the number of college graduates in the state.

"I know we can do it, but I know it's going to take a lot of hard work," Walker said.

Walker added that in addition to revamping the state Department of Commerce, he wants to provide a greater role for the state's higher education institutions in creating jobs, calling the UW campuses "a valuable and powerful asset to would-be employers in the state."

He said he wants the state's four-year and two-year campuses as well as the technical colleges to have a seat at the table when he reaches out to employers looking to relocate to Wisconsin or expand operations already here. He said the services the schools offer can be a great selling point to companies.

Regent President Charles Pruitt assured Walker that while nearly all of the regents have been appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle, each member serves as a steward of the university rather than as a Democrat or Republican. He urged Walker to use the UW as a "catalyst" to achieve his goal of creating 250,000 new jobs in his first term.

-- By Andy Szal

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