Monthly Archives: May 2015

Joint Finance to Discuss UW System Friday, May 29

Joint Finance Committee Hearing RoomThe Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 am tomorrow, Friday, May 29 in Room 412 East in the State Capitol.

Livestream coverage is available on WisconsinEye. Links to Legislative Fiscal Bureau budget papers are here.

First on the agenda is the University of Wisconsin System. The committee must decide if they will adopt Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to slash UW System funding by $300 million over the biennium. Legislative leaders have already said they oppose transforming UW System into a public authority.

Other UW System items on the agenda:

The committee will also discuss the Departments of Natural Resources, Transportation and Revenue and consider changes to sales and income taxes. Funding for the Milwaukee Bucks arena in Milwaukee rounds out the agenda.

PROFS is carefully monitoring the UW System budget discussion and continues to lobby members of the Joint Finance Committee for the best possible budget for the university and its faculty.

Follow PROFS on Twitter and Facebook for the latest information.

 

Joint Finance Committee to Meet Wednesday, May 27

The Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27 in Room 412 East in the State Capitol. Livestream coverage is available on WisconsinEye. Links to Legislative Fiscal Bureau budget papers are here.

Executive action will be taken on the following topics:

Blood Withdrawals — Intoxicated and Reckless Flying Violations
Building Commission
Building Program
Program Supplements
Department of Administration
Department of Tourism
Department of Workforce Development — Worker’s Compensation and Unemployment Insurance
Department of Health Services — Long-Term Care Services

PROFS continues to lobby for the inclusion of the Chemistry Building project which may come up tomorrow as part of the State Building Commission/Building Program discussion.

 

Legislative Fiscal Bureau UW System Budget Papers

The Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on motions relating to the University of Wisconsin System this week. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has prepared budget papers with possible alternatives to those offered by Governor Scott Walker in his budget proposal:

The committee may decide to forego individual motions and instead vote on a single omnibus motion, as it did with K-12 last week.

Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses to Rise for State Employees

The State of Wisconsin Group Insurance Board met today and voted to increase out-of-pocket health care expenses for state employees, including University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty. The changes go into effect January 1, 2016, and will net the state approximately $85 million over two years.

Governor Scott Walker proposed the changes as part of the 2015-17 biennial budget, which required the Department of Employee Trust Funds to identify and implement $81 million in savings from January 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. The changes should also eliminate the so-called Cadillac Tax on employers who offer high-cost plans to their workers, set to go into effect in 2018.

Much of the savings will be realized through new deductibles and doubled out-of-pocket expenses for workers. Employees with single coverage will pay a $250 deductible and a maximum out-of-pocket expense of $1,000 annually, while employees on the family plan will pay a $500 deductible and out-of-pocket maximum of $2,000 annually. Essentially this is a pay cut of as much as $750 to $1,500 annually depending on the health insurance benefit plan an employee chooses.

Edited at 8:10 pm with correct figures for essential pay cut.

Joint Finance Committee to Meet Today and Thursday

Joint Finance hearing roomThe Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will meet today and Thursday in Room 412 East in the State Capitol. Livestream coverage is available on WisconsinEye. Links to Legislative Fiscal Bureau budget papers are here.

Joint Finance Committee Co-chairs Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) announced Monday the committee would postpone action on the Department of Transportation and instead take up Medical Assistance Thursday. Action on the University of Wisconsin System is expected sometime next week.

PROFS continues to meet with legislative leaders, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), to explain why the current budget proposal is bad for the university, bad for students, and bad for the Wisconsin economy.

Executive action will be taken on the following topics this week:

Tuesday

  • Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority
  • Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Budget Management and Compensation Reserves
  • Department of Employee Trust Funds
  • Drug Screening and Testing
  • Department of Corrections
  • Department of Public Instruction

Thursday

  • Government Accountability Board
  • Department of Financial Institutions and Professional Standards
  • Department of Financial Institutions
  • Department of Safety and Professional Services
  • Forward Wisconsin Development Authority/Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)
  • Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
  • Department of Health Services, including Medical Assistance

 

Joint Finance Committee to meet Tuesday and Thursday

Joint Finance Committee Hearing RoomThe Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will meet Tuesday and Thursday this week in Room 412 East in the State Capitol. Livestream coverage is available on WisconsinEye.

Executive action will be taken on the following topics:

Tuesday

  • Higher Educational Aids Board
  • Educational Communications Board
  • Office of State Employment Relations
  • Department of Health Services — Institutions and Mental Health
  • Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
  • Environmental Improvement Fund

Thursday

  • Department of Administration — Hearings and Appeals
  • Department of Administration — Information Technology
  • Investment Board
  • Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board
  • Department of Children and Families — Departmentwide
  • Department of Children and Families — Children and Families
  • Department of Children and Families — Economic Support and Child Care
  • Department of Children and Families — Child Support
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief — Direct Aid Payments
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief — Property Taxation
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief — Property Tax Credits
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief — Local Revenue Options

Legislative leaders said recently they do not expect to consider motions relating to the University of Wisconsin System until the last week of May. PROFS continues to meet with legislators to advocate for the best possible budget for UW-Madison and its faculty.

Legislative Update

Capitol_tulips94_10State Budget Update

The 2015-17 biennial budget process continues. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee began meeting in executive session last month, but has yet to consider motions relating to the University of Wisconsin System.

Committee leaders have said they would like to conclude its work by the end of May, with the budget bill then moving to Senate and Assembly for their consideration. The entire process is expected to conclude in late June.

Public authority out of budget  Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) announced today that the public authority plan for the University of Wisconsin System was dead and the committee would instead consider granting the university greater budget and management flexibilities.

Meetings with legislators  PROFS continues to meet with key legislators and lobby on behalf of faculty, focusing on senate resolutions on state budget cuts and shared governance and funding for the Chemistry Building project. Members of the PROFS steering committee have met with more than a dozen legislators and staff since the beginning of the year.

Size of budget cuts While some legislative leaders have expressed a desire to lessen the size of the cut to UW System, both Governor Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said revenue estimates expected later this week are likely to be lower than hoped and the first priority is K-12 education.

Fitzgerald also said he had less of a commitment to decrease the cut after the Board of Regents approved tuition increases on out-of-state and professional students earlier this month. Despite the unpopularity of the proposed cut — one poll found seventy percent of the state opposed — Fitzgerald said some legislators still have a “bitter taste in their mouths” after the budget surplus issue of the last biennium.

Tuition Freeze Governor Walker said in his budget errata message last month he intends to limit tuition increases to no more than the annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) after a two-year freeze. UW System President Ray Cross said tying tuition increases to CPI “is not compatible with the agile, market-driven, and competitive entity the state needs us to be.”

Many higher education experts believe the plan to be unworkable: “Because the costs associated with running universities naturally exceed the costs of basic goods and services as represented in the CPI, limiting tuition increases to increases in the CPI is the wrong yard stick to use and is also very likely to reduce the ability of Wisconsin universities to offer the same quality as they have in the past,” said Professor Michael McLendon of Southern Methodist University.

Board of Regents

The UW System Board of Regents does not have a May meeting scheduled, but will meet in Milwaukee on June 4 and 5. Governor Scott Walker is expected to name three new regents this month as Regent President Michael Falbo, Regent David Walsh and traditional student Regent Anicka Purath complete their terms.

Three UW-Madison faculty members will serve on Regent task forces on shared governance and tenure – Biomedical Engineering Professor Beth Meyerand is a member of the shared governance task force, while Kinesiology Professor Dorothy Farrar-Edwards and Plant Pathology Professor Patricia McManus will serve on the tenure task force.