UW System leaders also lobbied for up to $200 million in one-time state money “until we have full tuition authority.” That would have reduced the cut to $100 million over two years, instead of the $300 million Walker will propose when he releases full details of his budget Tuesday.
In mid-November, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank contacted a top Walker donor and friend of UW-Madison to seek his help, according to an email she sent Nov. 15 to the UW System’s key communications and political strategist, Jim Villa, Vice Chancellor for University Relations.
Blank referred to the donor, Mike Shannon, as “one of our best friends and donors” and said she planned to fly with him and “other UW-Madison folks” to the Packers game the next day, adding “Scott and Tonette Walker are supposed to be along on the trip as well.”
Shannon is founder of KSL Capital Partners LLC in Denver,
and a board member for the University of Wisconsin Foundation.
“As he said to me, ‘I’ve been a really big donor to the Wi Republican party, but I’ve never asked anything of them since I live outside the state,'” Blank recounted to Villa.
In another email exchange between Villa and UW System President Ray Cross on Jan. 8, Villa outlined budget projections, the political landscape and strategies and options intended to be used as “notes for regent phone calls.”
“Our political strategies over the decade have varied in style and purpose from collaborative to hostile,” Villa said in the email. “We have tried to engage, cajole, prod, threaten, beg, and even initiate a statewide marketing effort. Yet, we have lost influence and suffered continuous budget cuts.”
Villa noted that UW over the past year had worked “to more tightly connect some aspects of the university to the state economy.” While those efforts received positive comments, he said, “when the state’s budget projections became dismal, our request to invest in and help to rebuild the economy of the state was tossed aside… We need a new strategy!”