Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
I hope you have had the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, relax and spend time with family and friends this summer. Some time has passed since our last budget message because the 2017-19 biennial budget is not yet final. I write with a recap and the latest developments so you are updated as you prepare for the new academic year.
The proposed budget for the UW System (UWS) continues to include restoration of the $50M lapse ($25M base) from 2015-17. Also proposed is $36M in new funding, including $28.8M in ongoing base funds in 2018-19 of which $26.5M is tied to performance metrics. To evaluate these metrics, each UW institution’s performance will be measured compared to peer institutions with similar missions. The performance funding includes $5M to increase high-demand degree programs and will be distributed to institutions through a competitive process.
Also included are a $6M increase in financial aid for students, continuation of the tuition freeze for in-state undergraduate students for a fifth and sixth year through the 2017-19 biennium, an unfunded expansion of the veteran’s tuition remissions program, a requirement for the UWS Board of Regents (BOR) to ensure that student segregated fees are classified consistently among UW institutions and a prohibition of BOR policy requiring candidates for the positions of President, Chancellor or Vice Chancellor to have faculty status.
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) addresses the UW compensation plan separately from the biennial budget. In mid-June, the JFC approved a 2% increase in September 2018 and a 2% increase in May 2019 for UW employees. If this proposal is approved in its current form, we are pleased that the majority of funding would be provided from the state compensation fund, the source for all other state employees’ compensation; we are exploring possibilities for the unfunded portion. Once finalized, UW System and UWM will develop guidelines and a process for determining distribution of the pay plan proceeds; we expect distribution will be based on merit and not across the board for all solid performers.
The proposed capital budget for our buildings and property maintenance includes $33.5M for updates in our Sandburg residence halls and $52M to address infrastructure and some limited renovations in our Northwest Quad. We are grateful to have received more capital budget funding than most UW institutions; however we have additional needs including $23.5M for renovations and repairs in the Chemistry and Engineering, Math and Science buildings, as well as updates to the fiber optic cabling for our main campus.
Several steps remain in the state budget process. The JFC deliberations will yield an amended budget, which will be voted on by the full Legislature, followed by the Governor either signing or vetoing the amended version. Once the budget is final, UWS will determine 2017-18 fund allocations to the campuses.
You have likely seen in the news that state budget discussions are now focused on funding related to the Foxconn Technology Group’s commitment to locate a new plant in Wisconsin. It is unclear what this will mean for the UWS budget, but I am pleased to have been involved in discussions to position UWM to collaborate with Foxconn on research, talent development and other engagement opportunities. I will update you as we learn more.
On the federal budget front, in mid-July, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies approved its fiscal year 2018 spending bill including terms to maintain current protocol on supporting facilities and administrative (F&A) costs associated with NIH research and to increase funding for NIH by $1.1B. Additional steps will occur before the federal budget is final, but these are encouraging signs given that the previous proposal could have had a significant adverse impact on federal research activity at UWM.
I will continue to provide budget updates as they are available. In the meantime, I hope you experience some great food and fun at the Wisconsin State Fair (UW-Milwaukee Day is Sunday, August 6), fit in time to walk, bike, golf or otherwise take advantage of some beautiful weather and enjoy the remaining days of summer.
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee