by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The speaker of the Wisconsin assembly, Robin Vos (R.), has said that DEI really stands for “division, exclusion, and indoctrination.” During budget negotiations in May, he said assembly Republicans would cut funding for DEI programs in the University of Wisconsin system. At long last, Vos (rhymes with “boss”) has secured a win against leftist ideology in higher education in a purple state.
Wisconsin is one of the most evenly divided swing states in the country, and the Republican majority in the legislature clashes with a Democratic governor, Tony Evers. The budget the legislature passed in June included $32 million in cuts to the university system, equal to the funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. The budget also included pay raises for the rest of the system’s employees and funding for new building projects on campuses.
Evers threatened to to veto the entire budget over the DEI cuts. He ended up signing the budget in July, but he used his line-item veto to protect 188 DEI positions in the university system. He was unable to legally line-item-veto the spending cut, though, so it still went through.
That meant it was up to the university system to cut DEI on its own. Once passed in the budget, the pay raises still had to be approved by a committee in the legislature. The committee approved the pay raises for all other state employees, but Vos said it wouldn’t approve the UW employees’ pay raises until the DEI cuts were made.
His hardline stance was the starting point for negotiations with the university system, and by this month, they had a deal. The legislature would approve the pay raises and release the funding for building projects, including for a new engineering building that Republicans had initially rejected, in exchange for a series of reforms.