May 30, 2015
Dear Faculty and Staff,
The State of Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee (JFC) took action on the UW System budget late Friday. The JFC voted to reduce the size of the cut to the UW System by $25 million annually for a total $50 million reduction. This means that the UW System will need to address $250 million in cuts over the next 2 years if signed into law.
We appreciate the willingness of the Joint Finance Committee to reduce the size of the cut and to provide additional funding for the costs of fringe benefits to our employees. It is also our hope that the flexibilities provided in the budget bill by the Committee will benefit us in coming years. At the same time, I want to reiterate that managing the size of this budget reduction on our campus will be extremely challenging. Our Budget Planning Task Force is continuing its work on recommending how we should administer the budget cuts and I expect to review its recommendations soon. There are many elements in the JFC budget motion, including the removal of tenure from state statute and changes to the existing language related to shared governance. Both of these principles are at the heart of how we function as a university and we place great value in maintaining them. That is why we are pleased that UW System President Ray Cross and Regents Vice President Millner have issued a statement in which they commit to continuing tenure and shared governance through Regent policy. The JFC motion also proposes eliminating indefinite status for any staff member who has not been granted such status by June 30, 2015. All remaining probationary appointments will be changed to fixed-term academic staff appointments effective July 1, 2015. We had not previously been informed of possible separate treatment of indefinite status, so we will be following up to determine the basis for this change.
The entire budget motion approved by the JFC can be found here. Of particular note:
- Deletion of the Governor’s proposal to convert the UW System to a public authority
- Authority for the Board of Regents to provide salary adjustments to recognize merit
- Addition of flexibilities with purchasing, human resources and some building projects
- Authority for the UW System to lease real estate property
- Creation of a UW System independent charter school authority
Many steps remain in the process to finalize the state budget including:
- Completing JFC deliberations, which are expected to wrap up next week
- Vetting and voting of the amended budget by the full Legislature, most likely beginning in mid-June. The Assembly and Senate must pass identical versions of the budget bill.
- Signing – or veto – of amended budget bill by the governor
- Determining UW System allocations of 2015-16 funds to campuses
UWM will host the UW System Board of Regents (BOR) on our campus next week, June 4-5. Drawing upon the impact of your work, I will resolutely make the case for supporting UWM and exemplify why we are absolutely vital to the region and state. I encourage you to attend my June 4 presentation and other BOR sessions; see the schedule here. Without a doubt, the System and UWM are being transformed during this time of sea change in higher education. I will continue to provide you with weekly updates and more often, as needed, to keep you informed as news and possible changes emerge. We also are scheduling additional campus budget forums and will share those dates as they are confirmed. In the interim, I encourage you to visit our State Budget Information website as it is updated daily.
Mark A. Mone, PhD