A recap of PROFS’ recent activities:
The Special Task Force on UW Restructuring and Operational Flexibilities concluded its work in June and released its recommendations in August. The committee heard from Professor Brad Barham, chair of the University Committee, at its May meeting. Barham emphasized the faculty’s commitment to the Wisconsin Idea by testifying to the task force that UW-Madison faculty are committed to serving the flagship of a strong University of Wisconsin System; dedicated to increasing the performance and reputation of the university as a world-class research and teaching university; and engaged in scholarship and outreach that will ensure that the Wisconsin Idea remains a center-piece of UW-Madison’s mission. The committee ultimately recommended increased flexibilities for UW System and UW-Madison, including a separate pay plan for faculty and staff at UW-Madison.
Candidate Forums PROFS sponsored three candidate forums this summer – two featuring primary candidates in the state’s 80th and 47th Assembly Districts (southwestern and southern Dane County), and one featuring Democratic candidates in the Second Congressional District. PROFS plans to host general election forums in these districts.
Wisconsin Legislature PROFS actively monitored and lobbied on several bills in the 2011-12 session:
- Rehired Annuitants Two bills (Assembly Bill 318 and Assembly Bill 352) would have required retired annuitants who work at least half-time to forgo their annuity payments. Rehired annuitants would also be ineligible to accrue retirement benefits while working, but could receive group insurance benefits. PROFS opposed the bills, which died in committee.
- Optional Retirement Plan Assembly Bill 539 would have given the University of Wisconsin System the authority to create an optional retirement plan for employees hired after the effective date of the legislation. The bill died in committee.
- Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) Senate Joint Resolution 48 was a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state and local growth to the Consumer Price Index and population growth rate. The proposal would not take into consideration the deep cuts the university has endured over the past several years and would restrict increased funding for the university when the state’s economy returns to a normal rate of growth. PROFS opposed this legislation, which died in committee.
- Stem Cell Research (Assembly Bill 214 and Senate Bill 172) These bills would have made it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts. PROFS opposed the bills, which died in committee.
- WiscNet (Assembly Bill 473 and Senate Bill 375) These bills, which had bipartisan support and were supported by a range of educational and community groups, would have delayed the restrictions on participation by the University of Wisconsin System in selling or providing telecommunications services by one year (from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014). PROFS supported these bills, which died in committee.
Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) PROFS hosted a public forum on the WRS in March. The forum featured three panelists – emerita professor Karen Holden; attorney Keith Johnson (Reinhart Boerner Van Duren, s.c.), former legal counsel to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB); and David Stella, former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds. Video of the forum is available here. In June, the Pew Center on States found that the WRS was fully-funded and one of the nation’s top pension performers. Just a few days later, the state issued a report recommending against any changes to WRS. PROFS will continue to monitor and lobby against any changes to the state’s retirement system that would adversely affect faculty.