Regents to discuss budget impact, video of Joint Finance hearing available

The UW System Board of Regents will discuss the biennial budget and its potential effects at a meeting tomorrow at the Gordon Event and Dining Center. Video streaming of the meeting will be available here.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow in the Gordon Dining and Event Center. The budget discussion is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m.

Archived video from yesterday’s Joint Finance Committee agency budget hearings is available at WisconsinEye. The UW System testimony begins at around the 3 hour, 36 minute mark.

Cross, Schmidt testify before Joint Finance Committee

UW System President Ray Cross and UW–Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt testified before the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee today.

Cross summed up his testimony with three requests: approve the UW System Authority, approve the dedicated and stable funding stream, and reduce the proposed $300 million budget cut.

“The reforms we are pursuing are the result of experiences I gained while working in Michigan, Minnesota and New York. Wherever I have worked in higher education, I have seen similar, frustrating barriers to achieving efficiency and effectiveness,” Cross said. “The lack of flexibilities creates a tremendous burden on all of us, including taxpayers. This budget would change that.”

Cross’ full testimony can be read here.

Schmidt also voiced support for the dedicated funding stream and public authority, and reducing the size of the budget cut.

“If we move too quickly, and misstep, we can jeopardize the student educational experience and our ability to implement future changes. Yes, let’s empty the basket. But let’s not throw the basket away. Let’s not risk the long-term health of a nationally renowned university system for a short-term biennial budget fix,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt’s full testimony can be read here.

Faculty Senate urges study of public authority, preservation of shared governance

The Faculty Senate on Monday called for more study of a proposal to convert the University of Wisconsin System from a state agency to a public authority and passed a measure opposing the removal of shared governance from state statute.

The Senate approved a resolution stating that it cannot support a public authority until more vetting is done and calling for the Board of Regents to appoint a commission of UW System faculty, students and staff to study the viability of the model. The resolution calls for the commission to issue a public report on its findings before the end of this legislative session.

UW System issues FAQ, summary document on public authority

UW System has released an FAQ and initial analysis of the public authority proposal in Governor Scott Walker’s budget.

The Joint Finance Committee has begun agency briefings on the 2015-17 budget. UW System President Ray Cross is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the committee. Tomorrow’s hearing starts at 9 a.m. and can be viewed live at WisconsinEye.

Crist memo clarifies budget impact on employee benefits

In a memo to UW System chancellors, provosts, chief business officers and human resources directors, Senior Vice President for human Resources and Workforce Diversity Al Crist writes that Governor Walker’s proposed budget contains no changes for system employees.

“Many employees have expressed concern about the future of employee benefits and may be making important retirement decisions based on uncertainty about whether they might lose a very valuable benefit if they do not retire,” Crist writes. “I repeat, there is no language in the biennial budget bill currently before the Legislature that would change benefits currently available to UW System employees. This includes the proposed UW System Authority model.”

(Read the full memo here.)

Employee benefits are addressed in the state compensation plan, not the governor’s budget proposal. The compensation plan for the coming biennium has not yet been released. It is typically not released until late spring or early summer, before the state budget is approved.


WISCAPE budget panel to be held Monday

WUD Society & Politics and the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) will hold a panel discussion followed by audience Q&A on the proposed state biennial budget. The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. in Varsity Hall in Union South on Monday, March 2.

LFB summary is now posted

The University of Wisconsin System budget summary from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau is now posted. The overall LFB budget summary is also posted.

Read AP coverage of the summary.

Video: Undergraduate Budget Forum at Union South Feb. 23, 2015

Blank: Reflecting on the budget, advocacy and civil discourse

In a new post on her blog Wednesday, Chancellor Rebecca Blank called on members of the campus community to maintain a “civil public conversation,” even around hot-button issues like the budget and public authority. She also reiterated that her advocacy has been in support of a strong budget for UW-Madison and not for the purpose of making political attacks.

“The ongoing debate about the proposed UW System budget has attracted national attention, perhaps not surprisingly, as it has gotten caught in the swirl of media and presidential politics.

I have been dismayed to see my statements advocating for a strong budget for UW-Madison presented as attacks on Governor Walker.”

Read the full post.

Cross outlines views on public authority

UW System President Ray Cross outlines his view of the public authority proposal in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel op-ed. “Right now, we have a substantial budget reduction to face and to manage. However, the tools to build a more stable and sustainable UW System of the future are within the state budget proposal,” he writes.

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