Regent and Legislative Update

Board of Regents The Board of Regents gathered today in a special meeting to discuss the possible separation of UW-Madison from UW System. The Regents learned earlier this month that Governor Scott Walker intends to transform UW-Madison into a public authority as part of his 2011-13 biennial budget proposal. Few details of the plan are known, but UW-Madison officials released two documents related to the proposed legislation on Wednesday.

Chancellor Biddy Martin addressed the board with prepared remarks and answered questions for more than an hour. She noted that she has been advocating for greater flexibility for more than a year in advance of likely devastating budget cuts:

I believe the biggest risk to UW-Madison is a 15 percent cut, a tuition cap, and no new tools. I don’t know how you deal with that without being devastated.

The Regents met only to discuss the proposal and no action was taken.

Legislature The Assembly voted very early this morning to approve Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill after nearly 61 hours of debate. Republican leadership stunned Democrats by suddenly opening the roll and calling for a vote before Democrats had finished speaking on the bill. Video footage of the vote can be found here by scrolling to the bottom of the page and selecting “Assembly Floor Session and Vote (Part 7/7)”.

The bill passed with a vote of 51 to 17, with 13 Democrats and 4 Republicans voting no. Twenty-eight members of the Assembly did not vote — 2 Republicans, 25 Democrats and 1 Independent.

The proposal now moves to the Senate, which cannot take a vote until at least 20 members are present. All 14 Democratic senators remain out-of-state and have no immediate plans to return to the Senate floor.