Legislative Update

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee statewide public hearings on the 2017-19 budget proposal last month and began voting on individual items last week. PROFS is meeting with university and legislative leaders to discuss several items in the budget proposal:

State funding tied to performance measures The Board of Regents would rank all UW institutions and distribute funds based on:

  • Affordability/Attainability, 30%
  • Student Success in State Workforce, 30%
  • Work Readiness, 15%
  • Efficiency, 10%
  • Additional Criteria, 15%

UW Pay plan A pay plan tied to presumed savings from a switch to self-insurance (see below) for all state employees would be offered in 2018 and 2019.

Policy Items in the budget The co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee said last month all policy items in the budget would be removed, but could be considered after being vetted in committee or as part of the committee’s omnibus motion. Several policy items dealt with the university:

  • Require the Board of Regents to create policies for the monitoring and reporting of teaching workload and a mechanism to reward those who teach more than an undefined “standard academic workload.”
  • Add language to state statutes that would give the university new power to regulate expression and criticism of that expression.
  • Allow students to opt out of allocable segregated fees.
  • Require institutions to develop 3-year degree programs.
  • Require students to have internship/work experience before graduating.
  • Require 60 credits transferable between UW and WTCS.

Self-Insurance

The Group Insurance Board recommended a switch to self-insurance beginning in 2018, but the Joint Finance Committee must review the proposed changes before they go into effect. The committee received the formal recommendation to switch to self-insurance today and has 21 days to decide whether or not to reject the plan. The committee co-chairs and other members have publicly expressed concern over the plan in the past.

Video from the PROFS/ASPRO forum on self-insurance is here.

Campus Free Speech Legislation

Several legislators, including the chairs of the Legislature’s higher education committees, announced their plans to introduce legislation that would direct the Board of Regents to draft a free speech policy that encourages all points of view. Regents would also be required to create rules that discipline students who interfere with campus free speech. PROFS is concerned about the reach of these proposals and has begun working with UW free speech experts on a response to these proposals.

AB 299 (below), sponsored by Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) was introduced last week, and Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) intends to introduce legislation (below) later this month.