The following papers were prepared by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in advance of the Joint Finance Committee executive session on the University of Wisconsin System portion of the 2017-19 biennial budget.
Each paper includes a summary of Governor Walker’s budget provision and discussion points, along with options for the committee to consider when voting on that particular budget item.
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.
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.
From the Department of Employee Trust Funds:
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about self-insurance in Wisconsin at the forum last month. ETF would like to direct people to the frequently asked questions on its website, as many of the questions from attendees are addressed here. Please also check the It’s Your Choice group health insurance section and other resources at etf.wi.gov.
Your questions are important to us and will help in developing future, relevant communications. Online information about group health insurance program changes for 2018 will be updated as soon as we know more details early this summer. For more timely information, please sign up for IYC E-Alerts: Health & Wellness and follow ETF on Twitter.
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee removed 83 non-fiscal policy items from Governor Walker’s budget proposal, including rules on faculty teaching load and freedom of expression on UW campuses. The committee chairs say the items should be considered as non-budget legislation by other committees.
Several additional provisions removed by the co-chairs relate to the University of Wisconsin System, including:
- allowing students to opt out of certain allocable fees
- requiring students to have work experience or an internship before graduation
- requiring campuses to outline a plan for three-year degrees
PROFS and ASPRO, the Academic Staff Professionals Representation Organization, are partnering to sponsor a public forum on self-insurance at 4 pm, Thursday, April 13 in the Plenary Room of Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Group Insurance Board recommended a switch to self-insurance for all state employees beginning in 2018, and Governor Scott Walker has earmarked the projected savings to fund a pay plan for UW System employees and increase K-12 funding in the next biennium. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee must review the proposed changes before they go into effect, and most of the committee has publicly expressed deep concern over the plan.
So where does that leave the proposal? PROFS and ASPRO have assembled a panel of experts who will share their knowledge about self-insurance and state employee health plans and take questions from the audience, including:
- Will the Group Insurance Board reduce the number of eligible health plans even if self-insurance fails?
- How will the state replace the earmarked funds if self-insurance fails?
- How might a switch to self-insurance affect the state’s health insurance marketplace?
- Are the projected savings from a switch realistic?
- Justin Sydnor, UW-Madison School of Business Associate Professor, Risk and Insurance. Sydnor is an applied microeconomist specializing in behavioral economics. His interests include the study of risk aversion and insurance choices, discrimination, and issues surrounding self-control and commitment.
- Lisa Ellinger, Director of the Office of Strategic Health Policy, Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). Before joining ETF, Ellinger was the assistant director of the Wisconsin Health Project. She is also an alum of UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs.
- Peter Farrow, General Manager and CEO of Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire. Farrow is past president of the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, an advocacy organization opposed to self-insurance. A graduate of Marquette University, he was previously Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Insurance in Wisconsin.
This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross spoke to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee last Thursday, March 30.
Cross focused on four areas: affordability, accountability, compensation and infrastructure. His prepared remarks are below.
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee announced six public hearings on Governor Scott Walker’s 2017-19 biennial budget proposal. None are in the Madison area, but one will be held at UW-Platteville on Monday, April 3 from 10 am until 5 pm.
PROFS hosted a public forum on the state budget on Thursday, March 16. PROFS President Judith Burstyn moderated. State Representative Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships Ben Miller, and PROFS Legislative Representative Jack O’Meara were panelists.
PROFS will host a forum to discuss Governor Scott Walker’s 2017-19 state budget proposal at noon, Thursday, March 16 in Room 5120 Grainger Hall. This event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), Ben Miller, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, and Jack O’Meara, PROFS Legislative Representative, will share their expertise and take questions from members of the audience. A recording of the the forum will be available online at a later date.
Questions at the forum are likely to include:
- What types of performance metrics are likely to be included as part of possible increased funding for UW System?
- What is the likelihood of a pay plan for UW faculty and staff? Is a pay plan still possible if the Joint Finance Committee does not approve self-insurance?
- Would new statutory language codifying the state’s commitment to academic freedom result in any changes to existing campus policies?
- Are non-fiscal policy items likely to remain in the budget proposal?
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary of the University of Wisconsin System portion of the governor’s budget is here.
PROFS is planning a forum on self-insurance later this spring.