Wisconsin JFC approved plan for UW System Budget

On Thursday, May 26, the Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) approved freezing University of Wisconsin System resident tuition for another two years. The legislative package also authorized Regents to create an engineering school at UW-Green Bay. WBAY, Washington Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had coverage.

Miller plans budget update

UW-Green Bay officials were informed earlier this week that the anticipated revenue loss of as much as $4.6 million in state support to the campus would likely be closer to $3 million. The projection shifted when the Joint Finance Committee voted to dial back the overall UW System cuts from $300 million to $250 million over the two years, the UWS Administration devised a formula to target that relief rather than divide it on a straight proportional basis, and the System agreed, as did the Regents at Thursday’s meeting, to one-time payments from central reserves to help individual campuses phase in some reductions. UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller has said he intends to distribute an update to faculty and staff in the near future. He will outline the overall impact of Thursday’s vote by the Regents, and also begin to share those aspects of UW-Green Bay’s strategy for handling the cuts that are most likely to be implemented in the near term. University officials told Green Bay area media this week that, with a total of 29 employees having committed to the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, along with other cost-saving measures, they are optimistic the institution will be able to avoid any involuntary layoffs.

UW System budget nears vote by Joint Finance

As of this writing, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee continues to debate the governor’s proposal for a $300 million reduction in statewide UW System spending. Earlier today, members representing the Republican majority indicated they intend to reduce the overall cut to $250 million. UW System President Ray Cross issued a statement in response to that proposal.

Cross, Millner release joint statement on tenure issue
Also in the news from Joint Finance are shared governance and tenure, with the latter gaining the most attention. UW System President Ray Cross and Board of Regents Vice President Regina Millner spoke on behalf of the state’s campuses and issued the following statement late this afternoon on the Joint Finance Committee’s proposal for possible changes:

“When the Governor released his budget in January, the leadership of UW System and the Board of Regents spoke with one voice and immediately expressed our commitment to uphold the tenets of shared governance and tenure. Whether these important policies continued in statute or Board policy, we vowed they would live on.

“We remain as committed to these principles now as we were five months ago. We appreciate that the action proposed today by the Joint Finance Committee keeps shared governance language in state statute, and we are reviewing other proposed changes related to shared governance. As tenure was not retained in statute, we will move to incorporate it into Board policies immediately. The Board meets next week. A UW System tenure task force, previously charged with reviewing the tenure issue, will continue its work.

“Our review of all of the Joint Finance Committee’s proposed changes continues. Overall, we are pleased with the substantial reduction of our budget cut and the provision of additional flexibilities, and we are confident our new partnership with the legislature is focused on the future.”

Miller to media: we’ll analyze, consult before commenting
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller declined to comment to the media Friday afternoon, saying it would be premature to weigh in on the Joint Finance Committee’s version of the 2015-17 UW System budget while the committee continued its deliberations. (A vote was possible late Friday.) Additionally, Miller said, he is inclined to await the UW System fiscal analysis of the JFC’s action and to consult with shared governance and campus leadership before commenting in any detail on the potential fiscal impact for UW-Green Bay, its students and employees.

Column by River Falls legislator praises UW’s economic role

Nice to see, FWIW: State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), a member of the influential Joint Finance Committee now considering the state budget and its $300 million in cuts for the UW System, has released a guest column stressing the importance UW institutions play in growing Wisconsin’s economy and working with Wisconsin businesses.

April 15 ‘town hall’ meeting on budget has been cancelled

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller shares word that what was to be the next gathering in the “town hall” series of budget updates — the session set for Wednesday, April 15 — has been cancelled. With the work of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee proceeding more slowly than anticipated, and UW-Green Bay leadership and the University Planning and Resource Council taking advantage of that time to continue to gather and assess data, there would likely be little new to report. The chancellor is meeting regularly with constituency groups, and says he will continue to provide periodic email updates, as needed, to members of the campus community. Although a few UW System institutions have gone public with at least some details of their plans for dealing with state budget cuts, most have not, and sources suggest final campus-by-campus decisions are now unlikely before mid-May or later.

Joint Finance announces public hearings

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has announced four regional public hearings for later this month to take comments on Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015-17 budget proposal. The panel will meet March 18 at Brillion High School; March 20 at Alverno College in Milwaukee; March 23 at the University of Wisconsin-Barron County; and March 26 at Reedsburg High School. Rep. John Nygren, a Marinette Republican who serves as the committee’s co-chairman, said the hearings will generally run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Cross to Joint Finance: Approve Authority and funding stream, reassess cuts

UW System President Ray Cross testified before the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance Tuesday, requesting that members approve the UW System Authority and a dedicated funding stream in Governor Scott Walker’s 2015-17 proposed budget while working with UW System and institutional leaders to reduce a proposed state funding cut. “This budget moves Wisconsin from one of the top-four most regulated states in higher education to one that is more autonomous but no less accountable to the public,” Cross testified. Read remarks by the two UW System spokesmen — Cross and UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt.