PROFS

PROFS and ASPRO Forum on Self-Insurance

PROFS and ASPRO, the Academic Staff Professionals Representation Organization, are partnering to sponsor a public forum on self-insurance at 4 pm, Thursday, April 13 in the Plenary Room of Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Group Insurance Board recommended a switch to self-insurance for all state employees beginning in 2018, and Governor Scott Walker has earmarked the projected savings to fund a pay plan for UW System employees and increase K-12 funding in the next biennium. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee must review the proposed changes before they go into effect, and most of the committee has publicly expressed deep concern over the plan.

So where does that leave the proposal? PROFS and ASPRO have assembled a panel of experts who will share their knowledge about self-insurance and state employee health plans and take questions from the audience, including:

  • Will the Group Insurance Board reduce the number of eligible health plans even if self-insurance fails?
  • How will the state replace the earmarked funds if self-insurance fails?
  • How might a switch to self-insurance affect the state’s health insurance marketplace?
  • Are the projected savings from a switch realistic?

The panel:

  • Justin Sydnor, UW-Madison School of Business Associate Professor, Risk and Insurance. Sydnor is an applied microeconomist specializing in behavioral economics. His interests include the study of risk aversion and insurance choices, discrimination, and issues surrounding self-control and commitment.
  • Lisa Ellinger, Director of the Office of Strategic Health Policy, Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). Before joining ETF, Ellinger was the assistant director of the Wisconsin Health Project. She is also an alum of UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs.
  • Peter Farrow, General Manager and CEO of Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire. Farrow is past president of the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, an advocacy organization opposed to self-insurance. A graduate of Marquette University, he was previously Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Insurance in Wisconsin.

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

PROFS State Budget Forum

PROFS hosted a public forum on the state budget on Thursday, March 16. PROFS President Judith Burstyn moderated. State Representative Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships Ben Miller, and PROFS Legislative Representative Jack O’Meara were panelists.

 

PROFS State Budget Forum

PROFS will host a forum to discuss Governor Scott Walker’s 2017-19 state budget proposal at noon, Thursday, March 16 in Room 5120 Grainger Hall. This event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), Ben Miller, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, and Jack O’Meara, PROFS Legislative Representative, will share their expertise and take questions from members of the audience. A recording of the the forum will be available online at a later date.

Questions at the forum are likely to include:

  • What types of performance metrics are likely to be included as part of possible increased funding for UW System?
  • What is the likelihood of a pay plan for UW faculty and staff? Is a pay plan still possible if the Joint Finance Committee does not approve self-insurance?
  • Would new statutory language codifying the state’s commitment to academic freedom result in any changes to existing campus policies?
  • Are non-fiscal policy items likely to remain in the budget proposal?

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary of the University of Wisconsin System portion of the governor’s budget is here.

PROFS is planning a forum on self-insurance later this spring.

 

 

Students Plan Day of Action in Opposition to Campus Carry

UW-Madison student leaders have planned a day of action on Thursday, December 15 to oppose allowing concealed carry weapons on campus. While a bill allowing campus carry died in committee last session, State Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) said at a campus forum last month that he intents to reintroduce the bill in 2017.

The group is also collecting signatures of students, faculty, staff and parents opposed to campus carry.

PROFS registered in opposition to campus carry last session and offered this statement on the legislation:

 

 

PROFS to Present Annual Report to the Faculty Senate

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PROFS president Judith Burstyn will present the PROFS Annual Report for 2015-16 to the Faculty Senate Monday, December 5. The senate meets in Room 272 Bascom Hall at 3:30 pm. A full agenda of the meeting is here.

Faculty senators and visitors are invited to join PROFS for refreshments in the rotunda area outside Room 272 Bascom Hall beginning at 3 pm.

 

 

Legislative Update

History 

The 2015-17 biennial budget process was difficult – UW System received a $250 million budget cut along with a two-year extension of a tuition freeze. PROFS played a key role in one budget bright spot: funding for the much-needed Chemistry Building project. In prior budget cycles, PROFS led the fight to ensure retirement contributions are taken pre-tax, saving the average faculty member about $1,800 per year and successfully lobbied for domestic partner benefits and first-day health coverage for faculty and staff. Looking ahead:

2017-19 Biennial Budget

While Governor Walker instructed all agency heads to prepare budgets with zero increases, the Board of Regents approved a $42.5 million increase in state funding over the next biennium. The increase will largely go toward initiatives to develop the state’s workforce and improve its economy, a plan called 2020FWD. The governor has also said he might consider performance-based funding increases for UW. Criteria for such an increase might include graduation and post-graduation employment rates.

FWD2020 highlights:

  • $26.1 million for the educational pipeline, with a focus on addressing the state’s workforce needs and increasing the student pipeline.
  • $6 million to improve the university experience, with a focus on creating graduates who are creative, innovative and entrepreneurial.
  • $6.4 million for business and community mobilization, with a focus on bringing together the university, businesses and the greater community.
  • $4 million for operational excellence, with a focus on improvements in targeted performance areas. The budget process is lengthy, beginning with formal introduction early next year and final passage most likely in late June. PROFS will be involved throughout the entire process and communicate regularly with faculty.

Tuition Freeze

Earlier this summer, Governor Walker said he supported an additional one or two-year freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition, lengthening the current freeze to six years.

Regent Action on Tenure, Shared Governance and Post-Tenure Review

Last year, PROFS regularly communicated with the chair and members of the Regent Tenure Policy Task Force as they developed new tenure policies. We will continue to aggressively advocate on behalf of UW-Madison faculty as the Regents work to approve a post-tenure review policy this fall.

Fall Elections

All Wisconsin Assembly seats and 16 seats on the Senate are on the ballot in November. Republicans hold comfortable margins in both houses, but some pundits believe the Senate could flip parties if a Democratic presidential landslide occurs. A split legislature would have an impact on the upcoming state budget process and could slow Republican legislative efforts such as a proposed ban on fetal tissue research and campus carry.

Legislative Update

state_capitol_dawn07_4080Tenure and Shared Governance

The Board of Regents met last month and approved three policies related to tenure, post-tenure review, and faculty layoffs. The meeting was contentious at times as the board rejected three faculty-supported amendments offered by Regent Tony Evers.

The language approved by the board was broad and intends to serve as an umbrella policy for individual campuses. The Regent Education Committee will consider UW-Madison’s faculty layoff policy (below), approved by the Faculty Senate in November, at its meeting in Green Bay later this week.

Wisconsin Legislature

Republican legislative leaders have said the legislature has concluded its regular 2015-16 session. The legislature is unlikely to meet again this spring, but could reconvene in special or extraordinary sessions later this year. PROFS monitored and lobbied on the following bills this session:

Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260, Limits on Scientific Research—Passed committee, never brought to the floor

PROFS registered against AB 305 and SB 260, proposals that would make it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts.

Assembly Bill 480/Senate Bill 363, Campus Concealed Carry—In Committee

PROFS registered against AB SB 363, legislation that would have require UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses to allow concealed carry of weapons in campus buildings. Current law permits concealed carry on campus grounds, but allows individual campuses to forbid weapons in buildings.

Assembly Bill 485/Senate Bill 365, Bans Guns on College Campuses—In Committee

PROFS registered in favor of this bill, which would ban guns on college campuses.

Assembly Bill 814, Shared Governance—In Committee

PROFS registered in favor of this bill, which would have returned university, shared governance to state statutes.

Assembly Bill 898, Tenure—In Committee

PROFS registered in favor of this bill, which would have restored strong tenure language to state statutes.

College Affordability Package—Four bills signed into law

Governor Walker signed four of six bills into law last month. A PROFS statement on the bills is here.

Senate Bill 276, Parking Revenue

Governor Walker signed this bill into law. It allows the university to spend parking revenue on campus safety and transportation programs. PROFS registered in favor of this proposal.

Senate Bill 571, Sale of Agricultural Lands

Governor Walker signed this bill into law. It expands UW System Board of Regent authority over agricultural lands. PROFS registered in favor of this proposal.

PROFS Self-Insurance Forum

Video from the February 23 PROFS forum on self-insurance for state employees is embedded below.

The forum attracted more than 150 members of the university community. The panelists — UW-Madison School of Business professor Justin Sydnor; Lisa Ellinger, Director of Office of Strategic Health Policy with the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds; and Mike Bare, Research and Program Coordinator for the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute — offered their thoughts on self-insurance and took questions from the audience.

Many thanks to the panelists for sharing their expertise and offering their invaluable insight on this important topic.

Legislative Update

winter capitolUW System Tenure Policy Task Force

PROFS actively followed the work of UW System’s Tenure Policy Task Force, which concluded its work in December and released updated layoff and post-tenure review language in January. The Regent Education Committee will review the proposed language on February 5 and full board action is expected in March.

PROFS Forum on Self-insurance for State Employees

PROFS will host a public forum on the possibility of self-insurance for state employees later this month (details to come).  The Wisconsin Group Insurance Board has received conflicting reports on if self-insurance would save or cost the state millions of dollars and will vote February 17 vote on whether or not to issue a request for proposals on such a move.

Wisconsin Legislature

The Assembly and Senate are currently meeting in their last scheduled floor period of 2016, but could reconvene in special or extraordinary sessions. PROFS is monitoring and lobbying on several items, including:

  • Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260, Limits on Scientific Research  PROFS officially registered and delivered testimony against AB 305 and SB 260, proposals that would make it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts. If passed, the bills would criminalize the research and use of scientific material previously derived from fetal tissue. Both bills have passed out of committee but have not been scheduled for a vote. PROFS will continue to strongly oppose the proposals, which have far-reaching negative consequences on campus.
  • Assembly Bill 480/Senate Bill 363, Campus Concealed Carry  PROFS is registered against AB SB 363, legislation that would require UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses to allow concealed carry of weapons in campus buildings. Current law permits concealed carry on campus grounds, but allows individual campuses to forbid weapons in buildings. PROFS is vigorously opposed to this legislation telling legislators in a statement that “we believe that making it easier for people to carry firearms and bring them onto university property would make it more dangerous for the faculty, staff and student of the University of Wisconsin.”
  • Assembly Bill 814, Shared Governance  PROFS is registered in favor of this bill, recently introduced by Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), which would return university shared governance to state statutes. PROFS worked with Hesselbein on the bill, and PROFS president Judith Burstyn spoke in favor of the proposal at a press conference announcing the legislation in December.
  • Tenure  Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) will introduce legislation restoring strong tenure language to state statutes. PROFS will register in favor of this proposal once the bill is introduced.
  • College Affordability Package  The Governor announced a package of six bills that address college affordability last month. All six bills passed the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities last week.