Edited May 30, 9:15 pm: Legislative Fiscal Bureau budget paper
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.
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:
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:
Governor Scott Walker suggested yesterday that University of Wisconsin System faculty could teach more in an effort to offset his proposed $300 million budget cut.
Walker’s comments, which also implied shared governance and faculty participation in decision-making have hindered cost-effectiveness, were made to Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes. Remarks about UW System begin at 12 minutes.https://soundcloud.com/journal-broadcast-group/gov-walker-talks-bucks-arena-on-midday-with-charlie-sykes
Response from UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Ray Cross was swift. Cross told Wisconsin Public Radio host Joy Cardin that faculty work on average 50-60 hours per week (18 minutes):
Chancellor Blank said that teaching is just part of the work faculty perform for the benefit of the state:
“Teaching is a core mission of the university and taxpayers should expect that faculty are spending time in the classroom. But we know that our faculty are working on behalf of the state in research, outreach and fundraising, among other capacities.”
PROFS President Grant Petty told the Wisconsin State Journal a professor’s job is much more than time spent in the classroom, likening it to the work of clergy:
“As Governor Walker knows from his own family background, a pastor’s job doesn’t start and stop with the Sunday sermon. The same is true of university professors and the classroom.”
Petty also noted that faculty are responsible for more than just undergraduate education, including graduate student teaching and advising, research and publication, continuing education, and outreach:
“I was not able to tell from the governor’s statement which of these things he thought we should do less of to make room for more of something else.”
UW-Madison will host its first-ever shared governance reception for faculty and staff tomorrow, Tuesday, October 7 from 3 to 5 pm in the Sonata Room of the Gordon Event Center, 770 West Dayton Street. Chancellor Rebecca Blank will deliver remarks at 3:30 pm.
Unlike some universities, shared governance at UW System institutions is codified in Wisconsin statutes and Board of Regent policy. PROFS is a product of shared governance, having been created by the Faculty Senate in 1976. We encourage faculty to attend the reception and learn more about shared governance and how to become more involved in governance groups and committees.
Jane Wellman, the executive director of the National Commission on College and University Board Governance, will visit UW-Madison tomorrow and participate in a discussion on changes to college and university boards.
The talk is sponsored by WISCAPE, the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education.
The continued defunding of public higher education has put enormous pressure on governance boards, and in some cases, resulted in changes to shared governance. Wellman will discuss these challenges and explore ways in which to improve the functionality of public-sector governing boards.
Governor Scott Walker announced a tax cut proposal at his State of the State address last month. He plans to utilize part of a $912 million budget surplus to lower state income and property taxes. The plan includes:
- A property tax cut of about $131 on a $150,000 home, Wisconsin’s median home value
- An income tax cut of $44 to $58 for each tax filer
- A change in tax policy that would result in the state no longer withholding more income taxes than actually owed, resulting in about $58 more per month per family
The governor’s plan adds $100 million to the state’s rainy day fund, but raises the structural deficit by about $100 million to $725 million at the end of the biennium. Assembly Republicans have indicated strong support for the plan, while Democrats and Senate Republicans have expressed concern.
The legislature is in special session to consider the proposal.
PROFS continues to lobby to preserve shared governance as described in Chapter 36 of state statutes and UW System Regent policies. Key legislators said they would like to see changes in university governance at a Regent meeting last fall.
State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) announced he will not seek re-election in November. Schultz has been at odds with his Republican Senate colleagues and faced a Republican primary opponent in August.
State Senator Kathleen Vinehout announced last month she will not challenge former Trek executive and Commerce Secretary Mary Burke for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Wisconsin Retirement System
The State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) announced last month the two funds it manages for the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) posted strong gains in 2013, allowing for the first pay increase in five years for annuitants.
PROFS is currently monitoring two bills affecting WRS:
- Assembly Bill 470 would increase the minimum retirement age by two years. If passed, it would apply to workers 40 and younger.
- Assembly Bill 471 would calculate benefits based on the five highest earnings periods, a change from the current three-year formula.
Both bills are in committee awaiting a public hearing.
The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents appointed UW Colleges and UW Extension Chancellor Raymond Cross next president of the University of Wisconsin System. Cross succeeds Kevin Reilly who stepped down in December to take a position with the American Council on Education. UW-Extension Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor Aaron Brower was named Interim Chancellor of UW Colleges and Extension.
Several campuses are in the process of searching for new chancellors – UW-Green Bay, UW-Stout, UW-Oshkosh, and UW-Colleges and Extension.
The University Committee sent an email message (below) to UW-Madison faculty this afternoon addressing concerns about the future of shared governance on University of Wisconsin System campuses. The subject was raised last week at a UW System Board of Regents…
The University of Wisconsin System Regents met with key legislative leaders yesterday to find common ground after a contentious budget process last spring. The conference featured several panel discussions and opportunities for dialog. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) alarmed faculty…