It’s hard to imagine any team in the state capable of matching up with the new starting 11 representing the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
No, we’re not talking about the Badger football team.
We’re talking about Badger Advocates, a new group of 11 lobbyists who are registered to represent UW-Madison in its efforts to secede from the University of Wisconsin System.
The group consists of high-powered, politically savvy, mostly Republican lobbyists who have registered to take up the cause for UW-Madison.
How much will the Badger Advocates cost — and who is paying the bill?
We really don’t know the answers, although if you go about estimating costs like the state Department of Administration estimates Capitol repairs in the wake of the protests, it will cost anywhere from $7.5 million down to $347,500 — give or take.
It makes perfect sense for the state to quit dictating to our university campuses a number of arcane conditions on purchasing, building construction and employee pay that merely raise the cost and slow the process.
But it makes just as much sense at all campuses, not just in Madison.
Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposes splitting Madison — and it includes $250,000 to study how UW-Milwaukee can split from the UW System, too.
And when does budget-saving flexibility come to the rest of the UW campuses such as UW-La Crosse?
Oh, it’s under consideration for the future, the governor has assured us.
Why waste money on a study for Milwaukee — and why use a divisive strategy on a higher-education system that is the envy of most every other state?
There seems to be something absurd about UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin negotiating with people who don’t have a college degree in order to re-engineer higher education in Wisconsin.
But in Wisconsin these days, nothing is too absurd.
As David Giroux of the UW System told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“Honestly, I think it’s terrific that UW-Madison has such talented people working on its behalf. It would be even better if we could channel that energy in a way that helps all UW campuses.
“The Badgers need advocates, but so do the Panthers, Titans, Eagles and Pointers,” Giroux said.
Most of all, higher education needs advocates maintaining the quality and accessibility that our 26 campuses provide.
If the other campuses trot out their own starting 11, how much money and attention will be diverted from the mission of providing world-class education on our university campuses?
It’s time for the governor to allow all UW campuses — not just Madison and Milwaukee — the flexibility they need and cut the red tape that, ultimately, does nothing to aid the quality higher education in our state.