Author: Michelle Felber

PROFS Statement on the Legislative Budget

Last night, the Wisconsin State Senate approved the the 2021-23 state budget proposal by a vote of 23-9. Three Democrats — Senate Majority Leader Janet Bewley, Brad Pfaff and Jeff Smith — joined all the Republicans present to vote in favor of the bill. This is the first time since 2007 that a budget bill passed with bipartisan support. The bill now awaits action from Governor Tony Evers who can sign the bill into law, sign it with partial vetoes, or fully veto the bill.

PROFS statement on the budget is below:

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Legislative Update

State Budget

PROFS has been working hard for the best possible budget for UW-Madison faculty since late last year. Governor Tony Evers introduced his budget proposal in February, but Republican legislative leaders rejected the plan and began anew in the Joint Finance Committee.

UW System

The Joint Finance Committee voted on the UW System portion of the budget late last month. The committee approved, along party lines, lifting the 8-year tuition freeze, which was not in Evers’ budget, and increasing UW System funding by $8.25 million, a fraction of the $192 million increase the governor proposed. The increase in funding is earmarked for specific programs, including $5 million for the Freshwater Collaborative, $2 million for UW-Extension county co-op agents, and $250,000 for a Nelson Institute collaborative program with the Department of Defense.

Pay Plan

The Joint Finance Committee also voted to provide funding for pay increases for all state employees, including UW-Madison faculty and staff, of 2 percent in each of the next two years. PROFS urged the committee to adopt a robust pay plan for the university before the committee met earlier this month, noting that strong faculty salaries are crucial for recruitment and retention and allow UW-Madison to remain competitive among our peers.

Timeline

The Republican-led Joint Finance Committee concluded its work on June 17. The Assembly will vote on the bill on Tuesday, June 29, with the Senate vote likely to follow on Wednesday, June 30. The bill will then go to the governor for his signature, partial veto, or full veto. The fiscal year begins July 1, and the current spending levels contained in the 2019-21 budget will be in place until Governor Evers takes action. Should the governor veto the entire budget, the current spending plan continues through June 2023 or until another 2021-23 biennial budget is passed by the Legislature.

Legislation

PROFS is also following and taking positions on a number of bills and proposals:

Assembly Bill 177/Senate Bill 209  PROFS registered against these bills that limit the use of drop boxes for returning absentee ballots.

Assembly Bill 192/Senate Bill 203  PROFS registered against these bills that place new restrictions on absentee ballots.

Assembly Bill 201/Senate Bill 204  PROFS registered against these bills that make it harder to use absentee ballots and register to vote electronically.

PROFS is strongly opposed to legislation that makes voting more difficult for faculty, staff, and students. Our statement is here.

Assembly Bill 77/Senate Bill 80  PROFS is registered in favor of these bills, which provide $1 million for state specialists who provide certain UW-Extension services. Public testimony in favor of this legislation is   Similar funding was added to the state budget by the Joint Finance Committee.

Assembly Bill 195/Senate Bill 323  PROFS registered against these bills that prohibit transgender women from participating in UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System intercollegiate, intramural, and club sports. Our statement on this legislation is  .

Assembly Bill 347/Senate Bill 375  PROFS registered against these bills that prohibit UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System from requiring testing for, or vaccination against, COVID-19.

Assembly Bill 362/Senate Bill 359  PROFS registered in favor of these bills that restore previous shared governance language to state statutes.

Assembly Bill 363/Senate Bill 360  PROFS registered in favor of these bills that restore previous tenure language to state statutes.

Assembly Bill 370/Senate Bill 260  PROFS registered against these bills that prohibit UW System and UW Hospital and Clinics from, while in the scope of their employment, performing or assisting the performance of an abortion. This legislation could jeopardize the accreditation of the obstetrics and gynecology residency program.

LRB-3355  PROFS will oppose this legislation that bans instruction on systemic racism (referred to in the media as Critical Race Theory) at UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System when introduced.

 

 

 

 

PROFS Asks Joint Finance Committee for Strong Pay Plan for UW Faculty and Staff

PROFS has a strong record of advocating for the best possible pay plans for University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty and staff and our work during 2021-23 budget process is no different. The Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on a pay plan for state employees, including those at UW-Madison Thursday. This is the letter we shared with committee members earlier today.

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June Board of Regents Meeting

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is meeting at UW-Milwaukee today and tomorrow, June 3 and 4. Registration for the Webex videoconference of the open portions of the meetings is here.

Several Regent committees are meeting Thursday morning:

  • The Audit Committee will hear several reports and updates, including updates on information security and youth and precollege protection guidelines.
  • The Capital Planning & Budget Committee will hear reports on leasing and capital projects, updates on State Building Commission action and the 2021-23 capital budget, and presentation by UW-Milwaukee on meeting the needs of the state.
  • The Research, Economic Development & Innovation Committee will hear about research and industry collaboration at UW-Milwaukee and a partnership between UW-Green Bay and Microsoft/LinkedIn. The WiSys Technology Foundation will also provide an update on faculty and undergraduate research, tech transfer, and statewide commercialization initiatives.
  • The Business and Finance Committee will consider several service and consulting agreements and hear a report from UW-Milwaukee, “UWM’s Financial and Administrative Outlook: Meeting Wisconsin’s Needs into the Future.”
  • The Education Committee will consider approval of the 2021 report on faculty promotions and tenure and new degree programs at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Madison (Master of Science in Sports Leadership). The committee will also hear a presentation from UW System on the Office of Educational Opportunities and charter schools.

The full board will meet Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Thursday afternoon’s agenda includes introduction of the new members of the board, updates from UW System President Tommy Thompson and Board of Regents President Drew Petersen and the presentation of UW-Milwaukee’s NCAA Division I Athletics Report. The board will also move into closed session to consider honorary degrees at UW-Milwaukee and changes to compensation agreements for two UW-Madison football coaches.

Friday’s agenda includes approval of committee action, the presentation of academic staff awards, and the election of the 2021-22 officers of the Board of Regents. For the first time in many years, there appears to be a contested election for board president. Vice President Michael Grebe, a Walker appointee, and newly-appointed Regent Ed Manydeeds have both said they are standing for election.

 

 

 

Campus State Budget Forum Recording

PROFS, the La Follette School of Public Affairs, and ASPRO hosted a campus forum on the state budget on Friday, May 7. The forum featured State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), State Senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Jason Stein, research director at the Wisconsin Policy Forum. Professor Susan Yackee of the La Follette School moderated the discussion.

May Legislative Update

This legislative update was shared with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Faculty Senate yesterday. The senate meets the first Monday of every month at 3:30 pm during the academic year, October through May, except in January. Guests are welcome to observe the livestreamed meetings and can find the link here.

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PROFS State Budget Forum

PROFS will host a virtual forum to discuss the 2021-23 state budget at noon, Friday, May 7. This event is open to the public, but registration is required (below).

The panel:

Professor Susan Yackee, Director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs, will moderate.

Governor Tony Evers introduced a strong higher education budget, exceeding the UW System request by almost $100 million, but Republican leaders have said they plan to create their own budget in the Joint Finance Committee.

Evers’ proposal included the following:

  • $190 million in new funding for UW System, including more than $50 million to fully fund the continuing freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition.
  • $40 million over two years in unrestricted funding to address student needs and budget losses due to COVID-19.
  • Borrowing authority that will give UW System the ability borrow funds for short-term academic and athletic expenses, long-sought budget tool that UW-Madison peers already have.
  • Expansion of Bucky’s Tuition Promise to all UW System institutions, along with significant increases in other financial aid programs.
  • $2 million for 15 additional county-based UW-Extension positions and 5 climate science research positions.

The governor also introduced a $2.4 billion capital budget, which includes almost $1 billion for UW System, but his proposal was deadlocked in the State Building Commission, leaving the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee to determine the capital budget.

UW-Madison has four major projects in Evers’ proposal:

  • $88 million for a new College of Letters and Science building to replace the aging Mosse Humanities Building.
  • $150 million for the first phase of a new College of Engineering building to replace the 82-year-old Computer Aided Engineering Center.
  • $26 million for the restoration of the 140-year-old Music Hall.
  • $73 million for underground utility work on the Engineering campus, an area prone to damaging floods

The Academic Staff Professionals Representation Organization (ASPRO) and the La Follette School of Public Affairs are cosponsors.

Forum Registration A Zoom link will be emailed to you the week of the event.

PROFS Statement on AJR 32, Declaring April to be Freedom of Expression Month

Tomorrow, the Wisconsin State Assembly is scheduled to vote on Assembly Joint Resolution 32, legislation that would declare April to be Freedom of Expression Month across Wisconsin. The resolution was introduced last week by State Representative Dave Murphy (R-Greenville) and State Senator André Jacque (R-De Pere). Murphy chairs the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities.

While PROFS is committed to the principles of free expression, it finds this resolution to be an attack on the state’s colleges and universities:

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PROFS Testimony on AB 77, Providing Funding for Extension Services

Emeritus Professor Steve Ventura

On Wednesday, Emeritus Professor Steve Ventura (Soil Science) testified at a public hearing of the Assembly Agriculture Committee in favor of Assembly Bill 77, legislation that provides $1 million per year in funding for state specialists in extension services at UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The funding is to aid in applied agricultural research.

PROFS submitted the testimony below and Ventura, a former PROFS Steering Committee member, spoke about the importance of such funding.

In an executive session yesterday, the committee unanimously recommended passage of the bill. The next step is for the bill to be scheduled for a vote in the full Assembly.

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April Board of Regents Meeting

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will meet via Webex Thursday and Friday, April 8 and 9. Registration to watch the meeting is here.

Regents meet in committee Thursday morning:

  • The Business and Finance Committee will discuss two agreements relating to UW-Madison and hear a presentation from UW-Madison entitled “Revenue Innovations and Real Estate Opportunities at UW-Madison.” The committee will also hear an update on federal COVID-19 assistance.
  • The Education Committee will consider approval of two new degree programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering at UW-Madison. The committee will also hear updates on the expansion of online education, prison education and charter school funding. Host campus UW-Stout will also offer a presentation, Polytechnic FOCUS2030.
  • The Audit Committee will hear reports related to internal audit and compliance.
  • The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will consider a lease agreement at UW-Madison and construction projects at UW-Madison and UW System.The committee will also hear updates on State Building Commission action and the 2021-23 Capital Budget.
  • The Research, Economic Development and Innovation Committee will hear a presentation from UW-Stout on how the university’s role as a polytechnic supports the state’s workforce and economic growth. The committee will also award three Regent Scholar Grants to professors at UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside and UW-Whitewater.

The full board meets Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Thursday afternoon, the board will hear updates from the UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson and Board of Regents President Andrew Petersen and a presentation from UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank before moving in to closed session.

On Friday, the board will approve committee action and hear a report on the expansion of online education at UW System. The Regents will also present the 2020 and 2021 Teaching Excellence Awards.