PolitiFact on UW System’s “Reserves”

Leaders of the University of Wisconsin System have faced a firestorm of criticism since the Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported last Friday that System holds more than $1 billion in financial reserves. The report found that UW System had a cash balance of $1.35 million on June 30, 2012, with nearly $650 million in unrestricted monies.

Republican backlash from the discovery was fierce and swift with a handful of legislators calling for the removal of UW System President Kevin Reilly. The Joint Committee on Employment Relations met yesterday to discuss proposed personnel systems for UW System and UW-Madison but instead used the meeting to grill Reilly and UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward.

PolitiFact Wisconsin examined the issue in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Here’s what they found:

  • $1 billion is the amount of program revenue that was on hand at the end of FY 2012. Forty percent of that is from tuition revenue, with the remainder coming from federal aid, grants, and gifts.
  • $648 million is in the form of unrestricted money.
  • $441 million is unrestricted but is being held in reserve for specific future needs.
  • $207 million is remaining.