Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Last Updated: April 14, 2015
Additions will be made to this page on a frequent basis, as the budget process develops and more details are known.

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What are the details of the governor’s proposed 2015-’17 biennial budget?
In sum, the proposal calls for a $300 million cut to the UW System for 2015-17, as well as a continued tuition freeze. It also proposes that UW System become a public authority, which would transfer from statutes to the Board of Regents control over UW policies and operations. A more detailed summary of the proposal is available at:

What is the budget process in the State of Wisconsin?
As we know, the governor introduced his budget on Feb. 3. Typically, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau needs about four weeks to complete a budget analysis. The Joint Finance Committee will hold multiple public hearings after the budget analysis. Both the Assembly and Senate will hold discussions in the spring. Then, a compromise budget is prepared and delivered to the governor, who has the ability to make line-item vetoes.

When will there be a final budget?
The goal is often for the budget process to be completed by late May or June, but it can take longer.

Voluntary Separation Incentive Program

Public Authority

What is the proposed change in the budget for Downer Woods?
UWM did not ask for the changes to state law that remove the legislative protection for the Downer Woods property and buildings.  The University has no plans to develop or sell the Downer property or buildings and is presuming that the current protections for Downer Woods would be maintained by the proposed UW System public authority.

The proposed Budget eliminates permissive authority for the Board to establish schools of Allied Public Health Professions, Freshwater Sciences, and Public Health at the UW-Milwaukee. Is authority to establish these schools being transferred to any other entity?
We are not aware that the authority to establish these schools is being transferred to an entity other than the proposed UW System public authority. Our understanding is that, for any provision being eliminated from Chapter 36, the UW System public authority will have the discretion to adopt those provisions as UW System policy. While there are no current drafts of such policies, we are not aware of any plan to eliminate these schools.

How might the proposed budget affect the new University Personnel System which is supposed to begin July 1, 2015?
The new University Personnel System, which as you note is scheduled to be effective July 1, 2015, is already Wisconsin law, so we are expecting it to be implemented as planned.

How would a public authority model function?
A public authority model would allow the UW System to operate its $6 billion annual budget with more flexibility.   Some of the areas of flexibility include construction projects, procurement and human resources.

What is our response to those who ask, “What are we doing to challenge the public authority?”
We are working to learn more about how the public authority would work. At this point, there are many details that are unknown. Currently, there appear to be some advantages and some disadvantages. We know that we want to preserve the provisions in Chapter 36, including rights related to shared governance, indefinite status, tenure and sick leave, just to name some specifics. In addition, we favor the flexibilities related to management of non-General Purpose Revenue (101 funded) building projects, including the possibility of serving as our own bonding authority, as well as procurement and our compensation plan. In addition, there is the possibility of increased authority to set tuition. However, more detail is needed regarding what savings will be produced from these flexibilities.

What would happen to my participation in the retirement system and to health insurance coverage?
The proposal calls for all UW System employees to remain participants in the Wisconsin Retirement System (retirement) and the Employee Trust Fund and will continue to receive health insurance benefits through the State of Wisconsin.

Where can I find more information about the public authority proposal?
To view a summary of FAQs about the UW System public authority proposal, including:

  • What will an authority allow us to do?
  • How will the authority be funded?
  • How will the authority be governed?
  • What are the benefits of a public authority model?
  • How much will the governor’s proposal reduce funding for the UW System?

Please see:

Chapter 36

Does the proposed state budget eliminate Lawton Undergraduate Minority Retention Grant, Advanced Opportunity Program (AOP), or Tuition Assistance Grants?

The proposed budget deletes the current statutes that provide for the Lawton Undergraduate Minority Retention Grant, Advanced Opportunity Program (AOP), and Tuition Assistance Grants. However, the general understanding is that UW-related statutes that are eliminated by the proposed budget are intended to be adopted as Board of Regents policy.  Also, we know that the proposed budget does not alter the funding sources for the Lawton Undergraduate Minority Retention Grant, AOP, or Tuition Assistance Grants. UWM students receive about $6 million through the named programs.

When would provisions in Chapter 36 be repealed, and what is the effect of any repeal in the meantime?
The effective date for changes to Chapter 36 would be July 1, 2016. Even though the budgetary changes would take effect on July 1, 2015, Chapter 36 (except for provisions related to state appropriations) would remain in effect until the proposed public authority would go into effect on July 1, 2016. There is no so-called “limbo period” during which neither Chapter 36 nor the public authority is in effect. In addition, existing Board of Regents policy will remain in effect.

What would happen to provisions in Chapter 36 under the public authority?
The general understanding for the impact of the removal of a number of provisions from Chapter 36 is that the intention is to move many such provisions into Board of Regents policy. At this time, however, information is not available about which specific provisions will be adopted as Board policy and in what form, in part because the draft budget bill is subject to change over the next several months as its provisions are reviewed and debated by the Legislature. As more details about these issues develop, such information will be provided. It is the intention to maintain as many of those provisions, whether in the statutes or as Board policy, as possible.

Would the rights from Chapter 36 like shared governance and tenure remain in place?
Like the other provisions in Chapter 36, the general understanding is that the intention is to move the provisions regarding shared governance and tenure provisions into Board of Regents policy. At this time, however, information is not available about the timing of such policy adoption or its specific content. Updates will be provided as soon as they are available.

How do we know that the Board of Regents will pass policies regarding current provisions in Chapter 36?
At the March 5, 2015 Board of Regents meeting, the Board passed a resolution stating that the Board supports addressing shared governance and tenure in Board policy and will create two “high-priority” task forces to make recommendations for new Board of Regent policies on shared governance and tenure. Per the resolution, the task forces are expected to make recommendations prior to July 1, 2016 but if shared governance and tenure are removed from the statutes earlier than July 1, 2016, the Board will, prior to the effective date of new legislation, adopt policies on shared governance and tenure that reflect the exact language of the current statutes.

Will the budget bill cause me to lose my accrued sick leave?
The budget bill proposes eliminating many existing statutory provisions, including a provision in Chapter 36 which required the carry-over of accumulated sick leave from year to year. Like other provisions potentially being removed from Chapter 36, this is a benefit that can be adopted per Board policy. We do not yet know which of the provisions slated for repeal from Chapter 36 will be adopted by the Board as policy, and those policies will take some time to develop. Having said that, we are not aware of any proposal to eliminate any existing sick leave balances. If that is proposed, we would seek a legal opinion whether the revocation of an accrued benefit is permissible.


Can and will 128 funds be used to cover a 101 funds deficit?  
General Purpose Revenue (GPR) budget cuts can only actually be taken from 101 (GPR) funds.  However, in the past, other sources of funds, including segregated fees, have been used to cover gaps created in divisions or departments by shrinking 101 funds.  No plan for using 128 funds has been developed at this time for this budget cut.  The Budget Task Force will consider the pros and cons of various strategies for managing and allocating the budget cut campus-wide.

How do you respond to the notion that UW-Milwaukee is a large operation with a $700 million budget, and thus a $40 million cut should be manageable?
For background, UW-Milwaukee’s total budget is $704.6 million, which includes financial aid funds that flow to students. The total operating budget is $550 million. If UWM is required to take a $40 million cut over two years, it would amount to an approximately 6% reduction to the operating budget. It is important to note that UWM has absorbed $32 million in total cuts over the past 15 years.

The Chancellor has repeatedly described UW-Milwaukee as an extraordinarily “lean” organization. What does “lean” mean in this context? How is that measured?
In August 2010, the Goldwater Institute published an “Administrative Bloat at American Universities” report that UWM has relied on to say that we are “among the leanest of the top 198 research universities in the US:

  • 12th lowest ratio of academic staff per student—3.5 per 100 students vs. national average of 7.0;
  • 14th lowest ratio of administrative staff per student—3.6 per 100 students vs. national average of 9.4; and
  • 12th least spending per student—$13,000 vs. $41,000 national average.”

For more information about UW-Milwaukee’s use of this information in 2011, please see:

One of the criticisms of the UW System is that we are top-heavy with administration. How does UW-Milwaukee compare to its peers?
UW-Milwaukee’s central administration costs are low compared to its peers. According to 2013 data, the amount spent on day-to-day administrative support as a percentage of total operating expenses at UW-Milwaukee is almost 30% less than our peer average.  These support services include general administrative services, legal and fiscal operations, purchasing and printing, employee personnel and records, and information technology. UWM spends 6.4% of all operating expenses on administration compared to 8.8% by its peers.
Please see:

What is our response to those who believe that UW-Milwaukee has cash reserves that it can use to absorb the proposed cuts?
UWM has $1 million in cash reserves within its $704.6 million total budget, or $550 million operating budget. (The $704 million figure includes federal financial aid funds that flow to students). This small amount of reserves are committed and thus unavailable. In any event, the cash reserves are not adequate to absorb the proposed cuts. To learn more about the cash reserves, please see a full report of fiscal year 2014 balances as found in the Board of Regents meeting materials for October, 2014; see the “Thursday afternoon agenda.” In particular, please see the tab for “Report on Program Revenue Balances – FY 2014” which includes an overview of the Regent policy and methodology that led to this reporting.  The tab for “Balance Designation Guidelines” provides the definitions.  The tab for UW-Milwaukee provides both an overview and a detailed breakdown of our “unrestricted” balances.  Note that when we fold in our restricted funds, UWM’s total fund balance is lower, because of a net negative fund balance in the restricted funds.  (This is shown further in Appendix 1.) Please also note that it is misleading to put too much stock into a current snapshot of the UW System balances, because our “cash” ebbs and flows throughout the year especially with the payment of tuition.  A year-to-year comparison of balances on June 30 is much more useful.

Are we going to have furlough days? If so, when will we know and how many?
We currently do not know the extent of our budget cut. Our budget planning includes examinations of many options for reductions, including the pros and cons of furloughs. As we do not know the exact budget cut, no decisions about furloughs or the other options have been made, and it is too early to predict the details of how they might be implemented. We are aware that UW System is encouraging each institution to do its own planning because there are unique characteristics for each campus, so we understand that if furloughs are possible, it would be up to UWM to decide how they would be implemented on our campus

What is the proposed cut to UW System?
The proposed cut to UW System is for $300 million over 2015-’17, however, the proposal currently includes a provision for approximately $20M for “costs to continue” to be provided in 2016-’17 on a one-time only basis, and thus, the base cut could be viewed as $320 million. There are some additional costs proposed to be shifted to the Authority that have not yet been quantified, such as costs to continue in FY 2017-’18, municipal PILOT payments (payments in lieu of taxes for municipal services), and pay plan costs.

What will UWM’s portion of the cut be?
The distribution of the cuts is not known at this time. If the cut was distributed to UWM as it has been in the past — by the GPR/Fee base of the institution adjusted for certain expenses — then UWM’s portion of the 2015-’16 cut is projected by UW System to be $20,430,000. For context, UWM’s 2014-’15 GPR (state appropriations) budget is $130,045,457, and thus, a $20.4 million cut is 15.7% of UWM’s GPR budget. Please note that UWM’s total budget for operations is about $550 million, and is composed of GPR, tuition revenue, auxiliary revenues, student segregated fees, federal funding, gifts and grants, and other miscellaneous revenues such as user fees. A Feb. 3, 2015 memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau that explains their analysis is available at:

What is the process UW-Milwaukee will use to determine potential cuts?
The chancellor has named Provost Johannes Britz and Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administrative Affairs Robin Van Harpen as co-chairs of a Biennial Budget Planning Task Force that will include members of campus leadership and shared governance groups. This task force will help us determine through an open and transparent process how we respond to the predicted cuts and strategically realign our resources and programs.