Legislative Update

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PROFS, a non-profit membership organization representing UW-Madison faculty, monitors legislation and lobbies the governor, members of the legislature, and members of Congress. We are proud of our past achievements. During the 2011-13 biennial budget process, PROFS led the successful fight to ensure retirement contributions are taken pre-tax, saving the average faculty member about $1,800 per year. Before that, PROFS successfully lobbied for domestic partner benefits and first-day health coverage for faculty and staff. Recent activities at the state level are below.

2013-15 State Budget
The university faced the removal of the Center for Investigative Journalism from campus after a proposal to force the center off campus was inserted into the budget anonymously. PROFS vigorously lobbied to keep the center on campus and ultimately Governor Scott Walker vetoed the provision from the budget.

PROFS lobbied hard to ensure a pay increase for state employees, including faculty, was approved. PROFS President Bill Tracy offered written testimony in support of the pay plan, which passed. UW-Madison also retains management flexibilities that allow for additional compensation plans.

The mandatory break-in-service for rehiring members of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) was increased from 30 days to 75 days. Rehired annuitants who work two-thirds fulltime must also forego their annuity payment and resume making WRS contributions, accruing additional creditable service. This provision was more favorable than AB 170, a bill that would force rehired annuitants working halftime to relinquish annuity payments. That bill remains in committee. PROFS worked hard to get the best legislation for UW faculty, staff, and students.

UW System Reserves
Leaders of the University of Wisconsin System faced a firestorm of criticism after the Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported in April that System held more than $1 billion in financial reserves. The report found that UW System had a cash balance of $1.35 billion on June 30, 2012, with nearly $650 million in unrestricted monies. A two-year tuition freeze was quickly suggested and inserted into the budget.

The controversy also spilled over to other areas affecting the university. The Joint Committee on Employment Relations decided to delay implementation of new personnel systems for UW System and UW-Madison. The university had worked for more than a year on the plan, and it is not known if the legislature will request a new personnel system in the future.

Proposed Legislation
The PROFS steering committee meets monthly to discuss issues affecting faculty and UW-Madison, occasionally voting to take a position on specific legislation. PROFS is registered with the Government Accountability Board and files lobbying reports twice a year.

Stem Cell Research (AB 224) This bill makes the use of fetal tissue in scientific research illegal. Passage of the bill would criminalize the use of scientific material previously derived from fetal tissue, which includes stem cell lines that have been in use for more than 30 years. Scientific research on campus would be severely limited, potentially delaying life-saving medical discoveries. PROFS registered against this bill.

Legislative Redistricting (AB 185/SB 163) These bills would shift the work of legislative redistricting from the Legislature to the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau. PROFS registered in support of this bill.

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