Governor Walker: Tie UW Funding to Performance Outcomes

Speaking to a sold-out audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library last Friday, Governor Scott Walker outlined an ambitious agenda that includes major tax cuts, the elimination of same-day voter registration, and tying increased funding for education (K-12, technical, UW System) to performance outcomes.

Quoting former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Walker said that the university should not receive money for “butts in seats.” Instead, the state should be paying for outcomes:

“In higher education, that means not only degrees but our young people getting degrees in the jobs that are actually open and needed today, not just the jobs the universities want to give us or degrees that people want to give us.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, ten states currently use performance-based funding formulas when allocating resources for higher education. Five states are transitioning to performance-based funding, while many others are discussing the topic.

The governor’s plan has the support of State Representative Steven Nass (R-Whitewater), a frequent critic of the university. Mike Mikalsen, an aide to Nass, told the Badger Herald that “we don’t want to pay for people to just sit in seats; we want to pay for classes that will cause students to land jobs. A degree that doesn’t lead to a job is a waste of resources and a waste of time for the students and their families.”

UW System and UW-Madison are already required by law to provide the legislature with accountability reports. Provost Paul DeLuca presented UW-Madison’s report to the Board of Regents in August.