Tag: public authority

2015-17 Budget Passes Legislature, Awaiting Gubernatorial Approval

Capitol_dome_fall05_13988Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature approved the 2015-17 biennial budget (Senate Bill 21) this week, sending the bill to Governor Scott Walker for his approval. The governor has not indicated if he will use his extensive veto powers to eliminate or change any sections of the proposal, but quick action is expected as Walker has said he would like the budget completed before he formally announces his run for the presidency.

The budget cuts $250 million from the University of Wisconsin System, removes tenure protections and shared governance language from state statutes, outlines new procedures to fire tenured professors, and freezes in-state tuition for two years. Walker originally asked for a $300 million budget cut and full public authority for UW System.

PROFS lobbied vigorously against the tenure and shared governance proposals and massive budget cuts, communicating with members of the Joint Finance Committee and sharing formal statements on the budget and tenure with the entire legislature.

Yesterday, Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent two letters to Governor Walker requesting vetoes relating to tenure and shared governance and indefinite academic staff appointments:

Tenure and Shared Governance

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Indefinite Academic Staff Appointments

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Legislative Update

Capitol_tulips94_10State Budget Update

The 2015-17 biennial budget process continues. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee began meeting in executive session last month, but has yet to consider motions relating to the University of Wisconsin System.

Committee leaders have said they would like to conclude its work by the end of May, with the budget bill then moving to Senate and Assembly for their consideration. The entire process is expected to conclude in late June.

Public authority out of budget  Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) announced today that the public authority plan for the University of Wisconsin System was dead and the committee would instead consider granting the university greater budget and management flexibilities.

Meetings with legislators  PROFS continues to meet with key legislators and lobby on behalf of faculty, focusing on senate resolutions on state budget cuts and shared governance and funding for the Chemistry Building project. Members of the PROFS steering committee have met with more than a dozen legislators and staff since the beginning of the year.

Size of budget cuts While some legislative leaders have expressed a desire to lessen the size of the cut to UW System, both Governor Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said revenue estimates expected later this week are likely to be lower than hoped and the first priority is K-12 education.

Fitzgerald also said he had less of a commitment to decrease the cut after the Board of Regents approved tuition increases on out-of-state and professional students earlier this month. Despite the unpopularity of the proposed cut — one poll found seventy percent of the state opposed — Fitzgerald said some legislators still have a “bitter taste in their mouths” after the budget surplus issue of the last biennium.

Tuition Freeze Governor Walker said in his budget errata message last month he intends to limit tuition increases to no more than the annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) after a two-year freeze. UW System President Ray Cross said tying tuition increases to CPI “is not compatible with the agile, market-driven, and competitive entity the state needs us to be.”

Many higher education experts believe the plan to be unworkable: “Because the costs associated with running universities naturally exceed the costs of basic goods and services as represented in the CPI, limiting tuition increases to increases in the CPI is the wrong yard stick to use and is also very likely to reduce the ability of Wisconsin universities to offer the same quality as they have in the past,” said Professor Michael McLendon of Southern Methodist University.

Board of Regents

The UW System Board of Regents does not have a May meeting scheduled, but will meet in Milwaukee on June 4 and 5. Governor Scott Walker is expected to name three new regents this month as Regent President Michael Falbo, Regent David Walsh and traditional student Regent Anicka Purath complete their terms.

Three UW-Madison faculty members will serve on Regent task forces on shared governance and tenure – Biomedical Engineering Professor Beth Meyerand is a member of the shared governance task force, while Kinesiology Professor Dorothy Farrar-Edwards and Plant Pathology Professor Patricia McManus will serve on the tenure task force.

 

Governor Walker: Freeze Tuition for Two Years, Tie Future Increases to Inflation

Governor Scott Walker said yesterday in a letter to the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance (below) that he continues to support public authority status for the University of Wisconsin System. Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern over the proposal, with Joint Finance Committee Co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) saying the plan had little support among Assembly Republicans and is “dead in our caucus.”

Walker also said he intends to limit tuition increases to no more than the annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) after a two-year freeze, saying the move would protect students and parent from unpredictable tuition increases.

UW System President Ray Cross said in statement (below) that tying tuition increases to CPI “is not compatible with the agile, market-driven, and competitive entity the state needs us to be.”

The governor also said he would not change statutory language regarding the university’s mission, thus keeping the Wisconsin Idea intact.

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March 25 State Budget Forum

EducBldg_extr_doors10_7628PROFS will host a forum to discuss the 2015-17 state budget at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, March 25 in the Wisconsin Idea Room in the Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. This event is free and open to the public.

State Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison), former Department of Administration (Thompson and McCallum) Secretary George Lightbourn, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Government and Corporate Affairs Charles Hoslet will share their expertise and take questions.

Questions at the forum include:

  • What is the likelihood public authority will remain in the budget?
  • What flexibilities can the university expect if public authority is removed?
  • Will the $300 million budget cut be reduced? If so, by how much?
  • How will tenure and shared governance look in Board of Regent policy?
  • What is the timeline for the budget and how can the budget change?

Legislative Fiscal Bureau budget papers can be found here once they are published.

Nygren and Knudson Announce New Plan for UW System

Representatives John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Dean Knudson (R-Hudson), co-chair and member of the Joint Finance Committee, respectively, announced they will recommend changes to Governor Scott Walker’s budget plan for UW System (below).

The legislators said they will work to reduce the $300 million cut proposed by the governor, but will not support full public authority for the system, saying the university indicated it was not interested in significant change:

“(I)t is clear from their response that the Regents, Chancellors and university administrators are not ready for this level of independence. We believe the legislature must maintain control and supervision over the university system.”

Nygren and Knudson also support tuition increases for graduate and out-of-state students while continuing to freeze tuition for two more years. They also want campuses to spend down reserves.

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Vos: Budget Cut is Deeper Than What I Would Have Done; Legislature Could Change Tenure

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told WisconsinEye senior producer Steve Walters he believed Governor Scott Walker’s proposed $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System budget was too large and he would support a smaller cut if state revenues allow.

Vos, appearing with Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) on Civil Dialogue, also said he does not support full public authority status for the system. The full video is embedded below. Remarks about the UW System begin at the 13 minute mark and continue for about 7 minutes.

Vos said Board of Regent action last week suggests the Regents are unlikely to implement major changes to tenure and “all these different things,” making full public authority unnecessary. He questioned the need for public authority if the board is going to protect the status quo and fears a large tuition increase would be the outcome of public authority.

Instead, Vos said he supports specific management flexibilities in procurement and building projects. Vos later told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the legislature has the ability to end tenure and shared governance.

Barca told Walters the budget proposal would devastate the UW System and would result in increased time to degree for students and the loss of faculty members to other universities. Barca also noted the average UW-Madison faculty member brings in an average of $250,000 in outside funding which would also be lost.

With regard to flexibility, Barca said he supports flexibility, but increased autonomy would make up only a small percentage of the budget cuts.

AAUP Statement on Proposed UW System Public Authority Plan

aaup-logo-2_0American Association of University Professors President Rudy Fichtenbaum released a statement (below) yesterday calling for the University of Wisconsin System administration to oppose the proposal to transform UW System from a state agency into a public authority.

Fichtenbaum says the proposal could profoundly undermine tenure, due process, and shared governance. In particular, he is concerned about the statutory removal of these faculty rights.

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Board of Regent Resolutions

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents adopted two resolutions relating to the 2015-17 biennial budget proposal last week.

One resolution called for a reduction in the proposed base budget cut and supported management flexibilities either through public authority status or new legislation:

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The second resolution reaffirmed support for shared governance and tenure and asked for authorization to establish policies of shared governance and tenure should they be removed from state statute:

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Regent President Michael Falbo on Increasing Faculty Workload

Michael Falbo

Michael Falbo

Michael Falbo, President of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, recently spoke with WisconsinEye senior producer Steve Walters. A two minute video excerpt is below.

The pair discussed Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal, including the governor’s recent remark that the university’s budget situation could be improved if faculty taught one additional class each semester.

When asked to react to the governor’s remark, Falbo said, “certainly it’s true if they (faculty) taught another class there would be some efficiencies from that.” Falbo went on to say any changes to faculty workload would not happen quickly and would be the result of a collaborative process with all involved.

The full 18 minute video interview is here:

Walker to Deliver Budget Address Tonight

Governor Scott Walker will introduce his 2015-17 biennial budget at 7 pm tonight. WisconsinEye, Wisconsin Public Radio, and Wisconsin Public Television will stream audio and video of the address.

The governor announced last week his budget will include a record $300 million cut to UW System and $1.3 billion in borrowing for transportation, but additional details are scant.

The Faculty Senate voted unanimously yesterday to support a resolution opposed to the funding cuts. A position on possible management flexibilities was not taken as those details will not be released until tonight.

PROFS will lobby hard in the coming weeks to reduce the size of the cut to UW System. The state faces a projected $2.2 billion shortfall in the biennial budget if state agency requests are fully funded, forcing legislators to decide how to prioritize budget requests. The first public hearings on the budget are expected next month, while the entire process is likely to continue through June.