Monthly Archives: February 2015

Legislative Fiscal Bureau Analysis of Governor Walker’s UW System Budget Proposal

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released its analysis of Governor Scott Walker’s 2015-17 biennial budget proposal yesterday. The entire University of Wisconsin System portion is here, but PROFS has broken down the document into separate categories:

Budget and FTE Position Summary

This section outlines the fiscal impact of the budget proposal — a 13 percent cut to the university’s state appropriation. It also includes language freezing tuition for two more years.

Also included are cuts to several programs: the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, the Environmental Education Board, solid waste research, recycling education funding, rural physician residency assistance program, and the discovery farm grant program. The State Laboratory of Hygiene and Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory would be transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

Creation of Public Authority

The section includes language converting UW System to a public authority effective July 1, 2016. Governance of the system would be the responsibility of the Board of Regents. Changes to the university’s mission statement are included in the this section, but the governor has said the mission statement will remain unchanged.

This section also says all public authority employees will continue participation in the Wisconsin Retirement System, group health insurance, and other benefit programs.

Provisions for tenure and and sabbatical leave programs are deleted. UW System President Ray Cross has said he will ask the Board of Regents to adopt current language as new regent policy.

Deletion of Current Law Provisions

This section deletes many current law provisions including shared governance. Again, President Cross has said he intends to maintain shared governance through regent policy.

The LFB memo says that the Board of Regents will have the authority to recreate deleted provisions, but will not be required to do so by law. Other affected programs include tobacco research grants, tuition remission, minority and disadvantaged student programs, student financial aid, distinguished professorships and chairs, and the reporting of sexual assault information.

New, Modified or Maintained Chapter 36 Provisions

Many provisions are maintained including police authority, admissions, conferring of degrees, travel policies, prohibition of student discrimination.

Sick leave would be regulated by the board.

2015 Legislative Directory

UW_Day_at_Capitol13_1390PROFS has compiled an extensive list of legislative contacts in an easy-to-use pdf (below) .

The printable document includes hotlinks to email addresses and websites, along with addresses and phone numbers of key legislators. A link to the directory is always available just below the PROFS logo on the website.

The list includes the governor; Dane County legislators; Assembly and Senate leadership; and members of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges, and the Joint Committee on Finance.

On Point with Tom Ashbrook: Testing The ‘Wisconsin Idea’ Of Public Higher Education

on point logo

Today’s first hour of On Point, a National Public Radio radio talk show hosted by Tom Ashbrook, featured a discussion of the Wisconsin Idea, Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts for the University of Wisconsin System, and how they relate to the the governor’s national political ambitions. Audio is below.

University of Wisconsin-Madison history professor John Sharpless and academic staff member Noel Radomski, director of WISCAPE, were joined on the panel by two members of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff — higher education reporter Karen Herzog and columnist/blogger Christian Schneider.

Spring Primary Election Today

Election_Day_voting12_5570Voters throughout Wisconsin may vote in spring primary elections until 8 pm this evening.

Information on registration and voting in Wisconsin is available here. Photo identification is not required to vote.

PROFS is watching a few races today:

Senate District 20 Three Republicans are vying to replace former State Senator Glenn Grothman who was elected to Congress in November:

  • Former State Representative Duey Stroebel
  • Ozaukee County Chairman Lee Schlenvogt
  • Veteran Tiffany Koehler

No Democrat is on the April ballot, so today’s primary winner is all but guaranteed to win later this spring, increasing the Republican majority to 19-14.

Waukesha County Executive State Senator Paul Farrow of Waukesha is one of four Republican candidates. Farrow said if elected he will remain in the Senate through the state budget process.

Madison Mayor Incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin faces four challengers today:

  • former Dane County Board member Richard Brown
  • activist Christopher Daly
  • former alderperson Bridget Maniaci
  • Alderman Scott Resnick

The top two vote-getters will be on the April ballot.



Regent President Michael Falbo on Increasing Faculty Workload

Michael Falbo

Michael Falbo

Michael Falbo, President of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, recently spoke with WisconsinEye senior producer Steve Walters. A two minute video excerpt is below.

The pair discussed Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal, including the governor’s recent remark that the university’s budget situation could be improved if faculty taught one additional class each semester.

When asked to react to the governor’s remark, Falbo said, “certainly it’s true if they (faculty) taught another class there would be some efficiencies from that.” Falbo went on to say any changes to faculty workload would not happen quickly and would be the result of a collaborative process with all involved.

The full 18 minute video interview is here:

UW System President Ray Cross: Proposed Cuts Would Seriously Damage System

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross appeared on UpFront with Mike Gousha Sunday, February 8. Video is below.

Cross told Gousha that the $300 million proposed cut could seriously damage System campuses, citing recruitment and retention of faculty at UW-Madison a large concern.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the Board of Regents last week that two high-profile candidates withdrew their names from consideration for faculty positions recently, each citing state budget turmoil as a factor. Cross said these examples are very troubling.

Cross believes that a $300 million cut is not inevitable and said that he, along with the Board of Regents, will work in the coming weeks to convince legislators to lessen the cuts.


Chancellor Blank to Board of Regents: These Cuts are Too Large

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank addressed the UW System Board of Regents yesterday, first touting the accomplishments of the university, but ultimately sharing her fear that proposed budget cuts could seriously harm the institution.

UW-Madison faces a $91 million budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year:

  • $23 million continuing cut from 2013
  • $57 million proposed cut (UW-Madison’s historic share of UW System total)
  • $3.5 million loss due to elimination of state funding for the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative
  • $2.5 million loss due to the elimination of municipal service payments by the state
  • $5 million set aside for faculty retention

The chancellor likened the cut to 650 faculty positions or 1,083 staff positions. That amount would also fund five of the university’s smaller colleges — Business, Law, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine.

Blank told regents that raising tuition at the professional schools and out-of-state students could bring in $18.5 million per year. Raising the cap on out-of-state students from 27.5 percent to 30 percent would add almost $19 million a year. Even with these additional revenue streams, less than half of the anticipated funding gap would be filled, resulting in major cuts to faculty and staff as well as student support services.

Blank is especially concerned that faculty at UW-Madison will be an easy target for recruitment by other top universities. Faculty salaries lag behind peers, and the median salary offer by a competitor last year was 42% higher than the UW-Madison salary. The chancellor told the regents the current budget situation has caused the university to lose three potential hires in the past week, including one nationally known researcher.

Blank closed her remarks with the following:

“Never has higher education been more important to the young people around the state. These cuts are too large. They are too large for the state. They are too large for the university.”


February Board of Regents Meeting

uw system logoThe University of Wisconsin-Madison will host the UW System Board of Regents today and tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, February 4 and 5. All meetings will take place in Varsity Hall in Union South, 1308 West Dayton Street. Livestream coverage of the meeting is available here.

The regents meet in committee Thursday morning, and the full board meets Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank will address the regents at 1:15 pm, followed by a board discussion of the 2015-17 biennial budget proposal.

The Education Committee will discuss sabbatical guidelines for 2016-18 and hear a report from UW-Madison Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf on educational updates. On Friday, the committee, along with all regents, will discuss the engineering needs in the state, including a proposal to create new engineering programs in northwestern Wisconsin.

The Business and Finance Committee will hear the 2014 Finance Report, the 2014 Annual Trust Funds Report, and the Information Technology Report.

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will hear presentations from UW-Madison and UW-Parkside on their respective campus master plans.

The Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee will hear updates on UW-Madison’s research enterprise and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation partnership.

On Friday, the regents will hear several reports, including UW-Madison’s NCAA Division I Athletics Report. UW-Madison professor Erik Brodt will receive a 2015 Board of Regents Diversity Award.

Elimination of the Wisconsin Idea?

AB 21, Governor Scott Walker’s 2015-17 biennial budget proposal, contains language that seems to eliminate the Wisconsin Idea from state statutes (Section IIII below):

Full changes to Chapter 36 are here:

PROFS is deeply concerned about these changes and their potentially devastating side effects and will strongly advocate for restoring UW’s statutory commitment to the Wisconsin Idea.

ETA: A spokesperson for Governor Scott Walker said this afternoon the change in UW System’s statutory mission statement was a drafting error.

UW System Budget Cuts Discussed on NPR’s Morning Edition

Governor Scott Walker’s proposed $300 million budget cut to UW System was a featured topic on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition today.

Click the link below to play. A transcript of the story is here.