The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is meeting at UW-Oshkosh today and tomorrow, August 21 and 22. Livestream coverage of the full board meeting is here.
Regents committees will meet Thursday morning, while the full board will meet Thursday afternoon and Friday.
The board will consider UW System’s state budget request Thursday afternoon. The proposal includes $95.2 million for the “Talent Development Initiative,” the implementation of new performance measures, and statutory language changes related to compensation, including the ability to offer merit pay increases.
The budget request notes that Governor Scott Walker directed state agencies, including UW System, to submit proposals that assumed no new funding, but UW System discussed its intention to request an budget increase with members of Governor Walker’s staff.
Budget request highlights:
$30 million for a competitive grant program targeting six areas critical to the state’s economy: agriculture, finance, insurance/real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and water research.
$27.3 to cover a pay plan funding gap. Historically, UW System funds about 30 percent of a pay plan increase with tuition dollars. The two-year tuition freeze has led to a funding gap, with many campuses holding insufficient reserves to cover the pay plan.
$24.4 million to increase the number of college graduates statewide, with much of the funding directed to the Course Options program, a program that allows high school students to earn college credits. Additional funding would expand the Flex Option degree program, improve the credit transfer system, and assist working and first-generation college students.
$22.5 million in one-time funding to assist with the creation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs. The money will be available to individual campuses through a competitive grant process.
UW System also plans to implement several accountability measures:
To meet or exceed the current goal of 80,000 undergraduate degrees conferred by 2025-26
To enroll at least 32 percent of Wisconsin high school graduates immediately after graduation
To meet or exceed the current plan to improve second-year return rate
To meet or exceed the current plan to improve the six-year graduation rate.
Wisconsin’s partisan primary election will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, August 12. Polls are open statewide from 7 am to 8 pm. Information on voting and how to locate polling places is here. Photo identification is not required to cast a ballot.
Many legislative races are uncontested, but there will be statewide primaries for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer:
Attorney General: Three Democrats are vying for the opportunity to face Republican Brad Schimel, Waukesha County District Attorney in November — Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, and State Representative Jon Richards.
Most incumbent legislators in Dane County face token or no opposition. However, first term Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) will face Middleton Republican Brent Renteria in the 79th Assembly District.
Two Democrats are vying to represent Assembly District 78: Alders Mark Clear and Lisa Subeck. The winner will be unopposed in the November general election and will almost certainly be elected. PROFS hosted a forum with both candidates last month.
Two Democrats are on the ballot in the 17th Senate District, the seat left open after Dale Schultz, a moderate Republican, announced his retirement. Voters will choose between Ernie Wittwer, a retired administrator with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and attorney and former legislative aide Pat Bomhack. The winner faces State Representative Howard Marklein in November.
Tomorrow’s election will also determine the Republican candidate for Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District. Congressman Tom Petri announced his retirement in April. Four Republicans are on the ballot tomorrow, including State Senators Glenn Grothman and Joe Leibham, Representative Duey Stroebel, and technical college instructor Tom Denow. The winner faces Democrat Mark Harris, Winnebago County Executive.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will issue opinions on three extremely high profile cases tomorrow morning, Thursday, July 31:
Act 10 The court will rule on the constitutionality of Act 10, a law that severely restricted collective bargaining by most public employees. Several lawsuits followed passage of the bill, but the law has been upheld every time, including in federal court. The state court is considering whether Act 10 violates workers’ rights to free assembly and equal protection under the law.
Voter ID The court will consider two cases that argue the state’s voter identification law is unconstitutional. One lower court struck down the law, while another has upheld it. Tomorrow’s ruling will not affect an earlier federal ruling that found the law unconstitutional and is being appealed.
Domestic Partnerships The court will rule whether or not the state’s domestic partner benefits passed in 2009 violate Wisconsin’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions passed three years earlier.
Mike Brost, a University of Wisconsin-Madison senior from Shorewood, asks in Friday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at what point does a state university cease to be a university?
Brost writes that state spending on higher education has fallen 28 percent since 2008, and UW-Madison receives just 15 percent of its budget from the state. Nationally, as state funding drops, tuition increases — 231 percent over the past 30 years.
At the same time, Brost observes investment in public higher education is a good for the state’s economy:
With $1.2 billion in state funding, the UW System contributes more than $15 billion to Wisconsin’s economy.
Brost argues that if current trends continue, Wisconsin’s funding of higher education will end in 2040.
PROFS hosted Democratic candidates in the primary election for the 78th Assembly District on campus Monday evening. Political science professor Kathy Cramer, Interim Director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service, served as moderator. Candidates Mark Clear and Lisa Subeck, both Madison alders, responded to questions from the audience.
The primary election will be held Tuesday, August 12. More information on the fall primary, including absentee and early voting, is here.
PROFS will host a public forum of candidates in the Democratic primary for the 78th Assembly District on Monday, July 21 at 7pm. The forum will be held in Room 1325 in the Health Sciences Learning Center. A map of the district, which includes much of the west side of Madison, is here. Free parking for the forum is available in lots 60 or 82 (Nielsen Tennis Stadium/Waisman Center).
Madison alders Mark Clear and Lisa Subeck will be on the ballot on Tuesday, August 12. Clear has served on the Madison Common Council since 2007 and is currently executive director of Accelerate Madison, an association of digital technology busineses. Subeck has served on the Madison Common Council since 2011 and is executive director of NARAL-Pro Choice Wisconsin, a reproductive rights advocacy organization.
Isthmus also profiled each candidate this week. The full article is here.
Political Science professor Kathy Cramer, Interim Director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service, will moderate the forum. Audience members will be able to contribute questions at the forum, but we encourage you to leave questions in the comments section below.
The winner of the primary will almost certainly win election in November since no other partisan candidates will be on the ballot.