2011 Legislative Review

Basc_window_Capitol06_02612011 has been an historic year for both the state of Wisconsin and UW-Madison. The year began with massive change in the statehouse, continued with a proposal that had the potential to split UW-Madison from UW System, and concludes with a gubernatorial recall election on the horizon. Throughout it all, PROFS has worked hard on behalf of UW-Madison faculty.

Most recently, PROFS has monitored and taken positions on legislation that affect faculty and the university:

  • Stem Cell Research — PROFS registered against two bills that have the potential to sharply limit stem cell research on campus. Faculty leaders noted that the bills are broadly worded and have far-reaching consequences both on and off campus. These bills remain in committee.
  • Rehired Annuitants — PROFS continues to monitor proposed legislation that affects rehired annuitants. Several bills remain in committee, but action is not expected in the near future.
  • Concealed Carry — PROFS lobbied against several bills that would allow the concealed carry of firearms and weapons on campus. The legislation that ultimately passed prohibits the university from banning firearms and weapons from its public grounds. Faculty leaders felt very strongly that the university should have the ability to ban guns on all grounds, not just in buildings, and directed PROFS to lobby against the proposals.
  • Voter ID — PROFS registered against a proposal that would require acceptable photo identification when voting. PROFS was particularly concerned with the original legislation that disallowed student identification from the list of acceptable forms of ID. While Voter ID passed and was signed into law, the bill was amended to include UW-Madison IDs among the list of acceptable forms of identification.

During the state budget process last spring, 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 benefit, customary in the private sector, was not part of the governor’s original proposal and not 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.

PROFS also played a key role in the budget debate surrounding increased administrative flexibilities for UW System. 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 in dozens of meetings with key legislators and staff. Many of those flexibilities were included in the final budget:

  • 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.

PROFS took an active role in educating faculty and staff about the budget repair bill and the biennial budget process through several well-attended campus forums and continued its series of panel discussions on the funding of public higher education.

To be most effective, however, PROFS needs the support of ALL the faculty. If you are not already a member, please consider joining today. Dues are modest — just one-tenth of one percent of a nine-month salary, deducted monthly.