UW-Madison will receive $1 million to begin advanced planning and design work for a new engineering building in a measure signed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Friday.
The new law — one of 15 Evers signed into law on Friday — comes after UW-Madison backed AB 775 as a way to increase its capacity for engineering students, as some peer schools teach up to twice more undergraduates.
“Better facilities and more Badger engineers will benefit all parts of our state,” said UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. said in a tweet thanking Evers for signing the bill.
Last year, UW-Madison requested $150 million to begin construction of a $300 million engineering building that would replace an 82-year-old facility. One-third of the initial cost would come from donations and grants, with the rest funded by government borrowing.
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The Republican-controlled Legislative Budget Committee withdrew the bill from the budget passed last summer, a move that baffled UW-Madison officials who said it would be a boon to the state’s economy. . The bill passed Friday does not guarantee construction of the building, but lays the groundwork for potential funding to be secured in the 2023-25 state budget.
College of Engineering Dean Ian Robertson said last spring that some 7,000 students apply each year to study undergraduate engineering, but the college has only space and teaching resources. to accept approximately 1,000 applicants per year. This is despite peer schools having student enrollments ranging from 6,000 to nearly 9,500 students.
The new building would allow the college to add an additional 1,000 students to its overall undergraduate enrollment.
Evers last week signed into law SB 557, providing flexibility in how the University of Wisconsin’s system board can manage its working capital.
Blank previously thanked the Legislature for passing the bill, saying it will provide “vital flexibility.” Budget estimates indicate that the expanded authority could generate an additional $11.2 million annually for campuses — money that “will help advance our teaching and research missions,” Blank said.
Another of 15 bills Evers signed Friday prohibits local government units from regulating battery-powered electric security fences, as the bill’s supporters say businesses need more security.
“With increasing crime in the state and already overstretched law enforcement, many people are looking for additional security for their businesses,” said SB 812 author Senator Van Wanggaard. , R-Root, in a statement late last year.
But while some violent crime is increasing across the state, robberies are not, the data shows.
Homicides in 2020 were at their highest level in five years at 302, down from 185 in 2019, according to Wisconsin Department of Justice data. Data for 2021 is not yet available. Aggravated assault also hit a five-year high in 2020. But crimes such as robbery, robbery, burglary and robbery in 2020 were at or near five-year lows.
State Journal reporter Kelly Meyerhofer contributed to this report.