Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
As the semester winds down, I write with the final budget update of the academic year. The 2017-19 state budget continues to progress and is expected to be finalized in June.
We continue to advance the following points on the state budget.
- There is a critical need to restore the $50 million lapse in general purpose revenue (GPR) funding for the UW System (UWS).
- We support the $42.5M in performance-based funding; however, we request that the criteria for awarding funds be based on progress each campus makes in their own improvement efforts versus pitting UWS institutions against one another.
- We strongly favor the proposed employee compensation plan for 2 percent increases in September 2018 and May 2019, respectively. Our stance has been that the funding derives from an assured source, not the estimated savings from a proposed self-insurance model for health insurance which does not appear to have the necessary legislative support.
UWM has been advocating for full funding of our renovation project requests in the 2017-19 capital budget. In March, the State Building Commission approved the Governor’s recommendations for two of our facility renovation projects: $52M for the Northwest Quadrant (NWQ) and $33.5M for the Sandburg Residence Halls. While we appreciate the support for these important projects, there is a critical need to fully fund UWM’s capital budget requests, which include:
- The full NWQ project cost of $69M which will allow UWM, including health, nursing, and information science programs, to occupy about 470,000 square feet in the NWQ that is not currently up to code, and to provide functioning classroom, lab, research and other academic space.
- $33.5M for Sandburg to upgrade plumbing and other infrastructure systems.
- $7M for safety and mechanical repairs and renovation of the Chemistry Building.
- $11.4M for lab for lab renovation and repairs in the Engineering, Math and Science (EMS) Building.
- $5.1M to update UWM’s 25-year-old IT fiber optic cabling for the main campus.
All of the renovations are critical to support UWM’s ability to continue to educate students and grow the number of graduates, the vast majority of whom remain in Wisconsin to live and work.
Joint Finance Committee
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is holding executive sessions to discuss the state budget, and has scheduled the UWS budget on May 23. With UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford, I testified before the JFC at a public hearing in April. I spoke of UWM’s critical role in the region and state, our support for the proposed additional funding for UWS, and a request to endorse the capital budget. In addition, we have met individually with almost all members of the JFC and those on the higher education committee. Last, we have asked others to interact with the JFC on our behalf, including sponsoring meetings for influential alumni to meet with JFC members, and asking our Board of Visitors, the UWM Foundation board, and area business leaders to demonstrate their support for UWM.
In addition to the contacts with JFC, UWM is advocating for our students, faculty, and staff in the budget process in a variety of ways. We recently hosted a legislative caucus for a budget update and tours of several research labs. I have continued my alumni tour with events in Madison, New York City, and Waukesha. We have hosted several meetings with local Regents regarding our operating and capital budget requests. I jointly presented to the Milwaukee and Madison Rotary Clubs with UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank. And the monthly WUWM radio shows and monthly advertorials in the Milwaukee Business Journal continue. All of these activities provide opportunities to showcase our student, faculty, and staff contributions and advocate for investment in UWM.
Please continue to visit the UWM State Budget Information website for the latest updates, news and resources. There is a new video about UWM’s impact on our region and state, new talking points, and a guide on how to advocate for UWM using personal time and resources.
I will provide budget updates in the coming weeks and beyond as developments occur. I hope you have an enjoyable start to your summer.
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee