The shape and substance of the state of Wisconsin’s budget carry important meaning for the UW-Madison campus community. The spending plan lays out a two-year policy roadmap for Wisconsin, and this site is designed to provide ongoing news, context and information about how it affects the university and the state it serves.

Recent news and updates

Cross: Funding UW is an investment in the future

by gbump

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross urged business leaders at the Rotary Club of Madison that the UW should be seen as an investment in Wisconsin’s future. Read the story from WisBusiness.com.

Walker says budget cuts will be spread across agencies

by gbump

Gov. Scott Walker said in an interview on WKOW-TV’s “Capitol City Sunday” that he anticipates cutting “bits and pieces of just about every part of state government” to close the 2015-17 state budget deficit.

Walker, who was sworn in for a second four-year term today, said his budget proposal will scale back the size and scope of state government.

“We’re going to continue to provide more reforms. We’re going to consolidate some state agencies, although most of that’s not really for cost savings,” Walker said. “It’ll be some (savings), largely at the top level. It’s really to make those agencies more effective, more efficient, more accountable to the taxpayers and to provide better customer service.”

Among the reforms could be more flexibilities for UW System in hiring and financial management, Walker said.

In year-end interviews, Walker talks “flexibilities” for UW System

by gbump

Gov. Scott Walker said in a interview with WISC-TV that he will honor his campaign promise to freeze University of Wisconsin System tuition and  plans to give more flexibility to the UW System and consolidate state agencies. See video of the full interview here.

And in an interview with the Associated Press, Walker said he was looking for ways to give the UW System flexibilities, but would not say whether additional funding would be included in his budget proposal.

Hoslet: State budget is UW–Madison’s legislative priority

by gbump

In an interview with the Capital Times, Charles Hoslet, UW–Madison’s associate vice chancellor of government and corporate affairs, says the state budget is the main legislative priority for the university.

“Ninety percent of what we’re interested in happens in the state budget,” Hoslet said.

UW–Madison is advocating for UW System President Ray Cross’ budget proposal, which includes a request for $95.2 million in new state funding for the “Talent Development Initiative.”

“Nobody has suggested that we’re asking for things that are not worthy of investment,” Hoslet said. “It’s a question of, where does it fall in terms of the priorities of the state budget overall?”


UW System President Cross proposes reform plan

by gbump

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross today called for a series of internal reforms, including reforming the executive search process, developing uniform workload guidelines for the non-instructional activities of faculty members, and conducting an analysis of administrative operations.

“Looking ahead, as we ask the Governor and the legislature to increase the state’s investment in the UW System, we need to continue to demonstrate our commitment to transparency and fiscally responsible management practices,” Cross said in his address to the Board of Regents. (See a summary of Cross’ proposals, or watch video of his remarks.)

“This is the right thing to do,” Cross said. “If we do our jobs well, the result will be a stronger UW System, one that adds value to our students, our faculty, our staff, our unique and varied institutions; and to the people of Wisconsin.”

Media coverage of the proposals: Wisconsin State Journal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Associated Press.

Making the UW budget process more transparent

by gbump

Hoping to increase transparency and accessibility of how the University of Wisconsin–Madison manages its resources, Chancellor Rebecca Blank asked staff to create the Budget in Brief, a slimmed-down booklet that breaks the university’s $2.9 billion annual budget into digestible chunks.

“I felt that we needed a clear, easy-to-navigate document that tells the story of where our budget money comes from and how we spend it,” Blank says. “I hope this document provides the straightforward information that our stakeholders need.”

Blank says the document lays out “in plain language and charts where the university’s money comes from, and how it is spent. It’s important that we be as transparent as possible about our current budget and our financial needs.”

For more on the Budget in Brief and the upcoming state budget, check out this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about the university’s budget efforts.

Blank lays out budget landscape to campus

by University Communications

UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says the upcoming debate over the state’s biennial is particularly important for the university, as well as for the economic health of Wisconsin.

“The higher education system in this state is central to its long-term economic competitiveness and growth,” Blank says in a recent post on her blog, Blank’s Slate.

“Having a world-class educational and research institution in UW-Madison gives this state a big advantage in attracting high-tech and growing industries to this state. Maintaining the excellence of our university and our overall Wisconsin system should be a high priority for anybody who cares about future job growth,” she says.

Read more »

Regents approve biennial budget proposal

by University Communications

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today approved the 2015-17 biennial budget proposal at a meeting at UW–Oshkosh.

Regents approve UW System’s vision and biennial budget plan

by University Communications

OSHKOSH, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents  unanimously  approved the UW System’s 2015-17 biennial operating budget request at its meeting Thursday in Oshkosh.

President Cross’ vision and budget plan to focus on state’s economy

by University Communications

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross today offered a biennial budget proposal focused on developing the “talent and ideas to improve Wisconsin’s economy and impact the world.”

Governor spares journalism center, approves delay in HRDesign

by University Communications

Gov. Scott Walker signed the 2013-15 state budget bill on June 30, 2013, putting into law a spending plan for state government for the next two years. Interim Chancellor David Ward says he is pleased that the governor listened to many concerned voices and vetoed a provision that would have prohibited the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism from utilizing space on the UW–Madison campus.

Update: 1 percent wage increases approved

by University Communications

The Joint Committee on Employment Relations today approved Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for a 1 percent wage increase in each of the next two years for state employees, including UW–Madison employees. The committee also approved a compensation plan for classified employees.

For most UW–Madison employees, the pay increase is the first since 2008, said Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Darrell Bazzell. Read more »

Ward asks for vetoes of WCIJ, HR Design provisions

by University Communications

Interim Chancellor David Ward today sent two letters to Gov. Scott Walker requesting vetoes on provisions in the 2013-15 budget bill.

The bill is on Walker’s desk after passing the Assembly and the Senate this week. Walker is expected to issue his vetoes and sign the bill next week.

Ward is asking Walker to use his veto pen on two amendments, one related to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, the other the HR Design project. The provisions were added to the budget during the legislative Joint Finance Committee’s deliberations.

Ward is seeking a veto of language in the budget bill that would prohibit the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism from utilizing space on the UW–Madison campus and bar UW employees from doing any work related to the WCIJ as part of their official duties.

In addition to the important work the collaboration has yielded and the opportunities it provides to students, Ward cited a concern about the legislature restricting the university’s ability to partner with outside entities on teaching and research.

“The best and brightest researchers – and entrepreneurs, and families, and investors in Wisconsin’s economy – cannot function when a government body holds more sway over their decisions than years of careful experience,” Ward writes in the letter.

Ward would also like the governor to veto a provision delaying the implementation of the HR Design personnel system for two years.

Pushing back the implementation of the new human resources framework will delay the university’s ability to make timely and effective hiring decisions, implement enhanced systems for employee development and performance evaluation, and install a new strategic diversity plan for hiring and employment activities, among other important changes, Ward writes.


Ward letter on Joint Finance WCIJ action

by University Communications

Below is a letter from Interim Chancellor David Ward delivered to Wisconsin legislative leadership on Friday, June 14.

June 14, 2013

To: Scott Fitzgerald, Senate Majority Leader

Robin Vos, Speaker of the Assembly

Chris Larson, Senate Minority Leader

Peter Barca, Assembly Minority Leader

From: David Ward, Interim Chancellor

I am writing in reference to a budget amendment approved by the Joint Committee on Finance that would prohibit the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (WCIJ) from utilizing space on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus as well as prohibit UW employees from doing any work related to the center as part of their official duties.

Read more >>>

Ward: Update on state budget

by University Communications

The following message was distributed to the campus community on Thursday, June 6 from Interim Chancellor David Ward.


Many of you are rightfully concerned about the amount of funding cut from the UW System budget, and what that will mean for you personally, and how it will affect the work we do each day in service of our teaching and research missions.

I was disappointed with the legislative committee’s decision to go well beyond the governor’s modified budget proposal and reduce our funding to an even greater extent, as well as the legislators’ decision to extend their authority to some specific UW operations. The budget recommended by the committee, if adopted by the full legislature, will present us with a formidable challenge.

Read more >>>

Statement from Bob Lavigna on HR Design

by University Communications

Office of Human Resources Director Bob Lavignia shared a message with the campus community Thursday, June 6 on the status of HR Design.

In the 2011-13 state budget, UW–Madison and the UW System were granted the authority to create human resources systems separate from the state personnel system. These new HR systems were to be implemented beginning on July 1, 2013. At UW-Madison, the initiative to create our new HR system is the HR Design project.

On May 23, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance amended the governor’s 2013-15 biennial budget bill to delay the effective date of the components of HR Design that require statutory changes until July 1, 2015.  The budget is expected to be finalized later this month.

Read more >>>

Committee amends, approves UW budget provisions

by University Communications

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) on Thursday recommended providing the UW System $89 million less in the next biennium than Gov. Scott Walker proposed in his amended budget, and delayed for two years the implementation of UW–Madison’s HR Design and the UW System’s overhaul of its personnel system.

The budget plan for the UW System was passed in an omnibus motion that wrapped several initiatives into one proposal. The motion passed on a 14-2 vote.

Read more >>>

UW System press release on Joint Finance Committee budget action

by University Communications

MADISON, Wis. – The legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance today advanced a budget that cuts state funding for the University of Wisconsin System by $66 million over two years and requires that UW reallocate $78 million for new initiatives and other expenses.

In addition, the Committee voted to transfer $58 million of UW funds to the Higher Education Aids Board (HEAB) in fiscal year 2014.  Because an equivalent amount of state funding would be withdrawn from that agency’s budget, the transfer will not result in any additional financial aid for UW students.

To the extent possible, UW System will use balances to cover fixed costs such as faculty and staff salaries, fringe benefits, debt service, and utilities. However, the permanent funding reductions and the absence of any new tuition revenues are expected to leave a structural shortfall of at least $61 million in UW’s annual budget starting in fiscal year 2016.

Read more >>>

Chancellor Ward statement on Joint Finance Committee’s budget action

by University Communications

Interim Chancellor David Ward has issued the following statement regarding the Joint Finance Committee’s action on the UW System budget:

“The governor’s amended proposal for UW System funding was challenging but manageable.  While I understand and appreciate the concerns of the Legislature over tuition levels, fund balances and other issues, I am disappointed that the Joint Finance Committee felt it needed to eliminate any new state funding in the upcoming biennium.  While we are able to reduce our cash balances to cover the expenses that will not be covered by the state in this biennium, the additional ongoing reductions proposed by the Committee will make it more difficult to meet our operational obligations in future years.  We must work together going forward to rebuild the trust between the university and the Legislature, to ensure that our goals and objectives for the university are aligned, and that there is a shared commitment to the level of state investment that will allow the state to maintain a world-class university.”

Committee takes up UW System budget Thursday

by University Communications

The state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to consider Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for the UW System’s 2013-15 biennial budget on Thursday. The meeting is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has papers analyzing the budget proposal can be viewed at the LFB’s publication page.

WisconsinEye will carry the proceeding live.

Statement by Chancellor Ward on governor’s modified budget recommendation

by University Communications

It is likely that you have heard the news of the governor’s revised budget proposal that includes a two-year freeze on UW System tuition and reduces the amount of additional funding provided to the system in the 2013-15 biennial budget.

A memo from the state’s Department of Administration, known as an errata letter, outlines the modifications to Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal for the UW System. In light of cash balances accrued in many accounts across the system, the governor is recommending, in addition to a tuition freeze, a reduction in new state support for the system from $181 million to $87 million.  The Governor and the legislature’s call for a tuition freeze is understandable given the difficult fiscal situation faced by many students and their families, and we are still determining what fiscal impact the other changes outlined in the errata letter will have on our campus.

Read more >>>

UW System statement on Gov. Walker’s budget changes

by University Communications

The University of Wisconsin System released the following statement regarding proposed changes to the 2013-15 biennial state budget:

MADISON, Wis. – Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch today asked legislative leaders to make changes to Governor Walker’s proposed 2013-2015 biennial state budget, including adding a two-year tuition freeze for all University of Wisconsin System schools.

“We share the Governor’s interest in keeping college affordable and tuition low,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly.  “While UW tuition is already lower than many peer colleges and universities, a two-year tuition freeze will send the right message to Wisconsin students and families.”

UW institutions will reallocate $42 million from other resources to cover the cost of the proposed tuition freeze.

In addition, Sec. Huebsch’s letter calls for $65.7 million in reductions to taxpayer support for the UW System. The Governor recommended that the Board of Regents reallocate about $28 million in one-time funding to cover new economic development incentive grants, startup funding for new UW Flex Option degrees, and two initiatives at UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health.

Read more >>>

Updated Statement by Chancellor Ward on UW Fund Balances

by University Communications

Interim Chancellor David Ward issued the following statement on Monday, May 6, 2013.

I have appreciated the discussion I have heard on campus regarding the fund balances carried by University of Wisconsin System schools. As I wrote in the April 25 email on this subject, the funds in these accounts are used to help UW–Madison succeed in its academic and research missions.

I am following up to give you more specifics about the funds, and to clarify some points about them.

The fund balances are reported publicly each year in the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and the UW System’s Annual Financial Report. These reports present a snapshot of the balances at a specific time.

Read more »

Statement by Chancellor Ward on UW fund balances

by University Communications

It is likely you have seen or heard media reports about the fund balances that the University of Wisconsin System carries and the discussion among legislative leaders and others about those balances. I would like to explain how this issue relates to our campus, and how maintaining balances helps UW-Madison succeed in our academic and research missions. Read more

UW System budget will be discussed Thursday

by University Communications

The Joint Finance Committee, the state legislature’s budget committee, will hold agency briefings next week on Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget next week. The University of Wisconsin System’s agency briefing is scheduled for Thursday.

The briefing sessions begin Tuesday and can be viewed on WisconsinEye.

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s analysis of the governor’s proposed UW System budget can be viewed here.