Despite Difficult Times, PROFS Records Major Accomplishments in 2011

W_crest_banner_Capitol_V_02The first half of 2011 was historic for the state and UW-Madison. A new governor took office in January, and in February he proposed a controversial budget repair bill which seriously weakened collective bargaining rights for most public employees. A few weeks later, the governor and chancellor proposed separating UW-Madison from UW System as part of the biennial budget process. During both budget deliberations, PROFS provided a strong and forceful voice for UW-Madison faculty — meeting with legislative leaders and gubernatorial staff in the Capitol and key administrators on campus and at UW System.

PROFS is proud to have helped forge important results for UW-Madison, including:

Pre-tax contributions. PROFS scored a major victory when the legislature voted to allow state employees, including faculty, to make pension contributions pre-tax, thereby reducing one’s income tax obligation. This was not part of the governor’s original proposal. While this benefit is customary in the private sector, it was not previously available to state employees. PROFS was the first organization to bring this issue to the attention of the governor and key legislators. This change will save faculty almost $200 for every $10,000 in salary, about $1,500 a year for someone earning $75,000.

UW-Madison’s share of UW System budget cut. Historically, UW-Madison bears about 40% of a total cut to UW System. Under the plan to split UW-Madison from UW System, that cut rose to 50% of a $250 million cut. When it became clear that the public authority plan would not pass, PROFS successfully lobbied to return the cut to historic levels, reducing the budget cut to UW-Madison by $30 million over the biennium.

Increased administrative flexibilites. When it was apparent that the plan to separate UW-Madison from UW System would not be approved, PROFS lobbied for administrative flexibilities as directed by the Faculty Senate. PROFS communicated the importance of specific flexibilities in dozens of meetings with key legislators and staff. Many of those flexibilities were included in the final budget. New flexibilities include:

  • State funding in the form of a block grant and increased authorization for campus to retain savings and invest them in other ways.
  • The ability to implement our own supplemental pay plans as long as they are self-financed.
  • The right to design and implement an independent personnel system, in coordination with but separate from UW System’s personnel system.
  • Fewer restrictions in purchasing and procurement.
  • Complete oversight of building projects costing less than $500,000 that are entirely privately funded.

Campus Events. PROFS took an active role in educating faculty and staff about the budget repair bill and biennial budget process, hosting well-attended campus forums on the state budget process and proposed public authority for UW-Madison. PROFS also communicated regularly with faculty through e-mail updates and regular posts to the PROFS website. The website received record numbers of hits during the spring months.

Continuing Collaboration. PROFS developed new and strengthened existing relationships with key stakeholders on campus and at UW System. We will deepen these relationships through regular meetings, and look forward to helping forge innovative solutions to the financial and organizational challenges and opportunities facing UW-Madison and the state in this critical historical period.