Regents met in committee this morning:
- The Business and Finance Committee considered approval of several agreements and contracts and discussed UW System’s 403(b) program.
- The Education Committee considered approval of four new degree programs and heard an update on the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin.
- The Audit Committee discussed current audits and considered approval of the FY2022 Compliance Plan.
- The Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee heard a presentation on the WiSys Technology Foundation.
The full board is meeting this afternoon and tomorrow morning:
Thursday afternoon, the board will hear reports from Board of Regents President Edmund Manydeeds and Interim President Tommy Thompson. Manydeeds is presiding over his first meeting since his election as board president last month.
The board will discuss a return to in-person instruction in the fall and hear an update on legislative issues before voting on the 2021-22 annual operating budget. The proposed budget does not include a tuition increase despite the decision by the state’s Joint Finance Committee to not extend the 8-year tuition freeze, freeing the Regents to include a tuition increase this fiscal year.
On Friday, the board will discuss the presidential search process, approve committee action, hear a report on summer bridge programs for incoming freshmen, and recognize the service of Emeritus Regents John Behling and Becky Levzow.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
PROFS is also following and taking positions on a number of bills and proposals:
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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).
- State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), member Joint Finance Committee
- State Senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), member Joint Finance Committee
- Jason Stein, Research Director at the Wisconsin Policy Forum
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.
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:
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.