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UPDATE: Joint Audit Committee accepts UW plan to keep surpluses in check

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A state legislative committee voted unanimously Thursday to accept the UW's proposal to keep future surpluses in check at the university's 26 campuses.  

The Joint Audit Committee gave its blessing to a plan adopted by the UW Board of Regents.

This comes after we learned a year ago that campuses were stashing hundreds of millions of dollars in reserves, while the UW kept raising tuition by the allowable maximum year after year.  

A year ago, lawmakers ordered a two-year freeze in UW tuition, and they ordered the Board of Regents to set a policy on how much schools can have in reserves. The Regents agreed to have campuses end each fiscal year with cash on hand that totals 10 percent of their annual expenses.

The goal is to have enough in reserve to cover unexpected costs -- and if schools don't reach the 10 percent target, they cannot use it as an excuse to jack up tuition. Any reserves above 15 percent would need approval from the Regents.  

Lawmakers were concerned that campuses would report their reserves in different and confusing ways.  

UW President Ray Cross said the System's administration would monitor that. The plan now goes to the legislature's finance panel.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)