Gov. Walker proposes budget cut, greater autonomy for UW System

In a press release issued this morning, Gov. Scott Walker detailed his budget plan for the UW System, including  a funding reduction of $300 million and formation of a public authority with greater autonomy from state government.

Here is the release in full:

Empowering a Stronger UW System to Educate our Children for the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 – Press Release

Madison – Governor Scott Walker today announced plans to give the UW System full flexibility of its use of state resources, while maintaining college affordability with another two-year tuition freeze.  In exchange for the added flexibility, state taxpayers will realize $150 million in savings annually.

“Reforming the partnership between the state and the UW System will save money and allow the UW System the flexibility to better serve those seeking higher education,” Governor Walker said.  “The people of Wisconsin deserve a government that is more effective, more efficient, and more accountable, and this plan protects the taxpayers and allows for a stronger UW System in the future.”

Under the plan, which is included in Governor Walker’s 2015-17 State Budget proposal, the UW System would receive a true GPR block grant from the state with independent authority over spending.  The University of Wisconsin System Authority will continue to be one of the best university systems in the nation.

Keeping Governor Walker’s promise, the resident undergraduate tuition freeze will continue for two more years making it four straight years tuition has been frozen.  After that, the UW System Authority institutions will have flexibility to adjust tuition based on demand, making them more competitive and market-based.

The move allows the UW System to make decisions relating to employee compensation, allowing it to create personnel and compensation structures that increase its ability to compete for the best and brightest.   The UW System will also have independent authority to establish policy regarding employee matters, including sick leave, tenure, and shared governance.

Under the agreement, the UW System will be able to use cost saving measures, using its authorization to negotiate and enter into procurement contracts that meet its needs and can seek lower costs by working with other higher education institutions.

The UW System will be authorized to plan, design, and manage construction projects funded with tuition, fees, gifts and grants, thus reducing project time to completion.

The amount of reporting will be reduced and streamlined, while maintaining necessary state oversight.

The UW System will manage the Minnesota/Wisconsin student reciprocity program for the state, allowing UW institutions to better compete with Minnesota and serve the education needs of students.