Chancellor’s Update: Latest Information on 2017-19 Proposed Operating and Capital Budgets

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Dear Faculty and Staff,

I hope you have been able to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather in recent days. There is nothing like a surprise showing of spring to raise spirits. This is a monthly update on the 2017-19 biennial and capital budget proposals. The state budget process is fluid and at this point we still have more questions than answers. Throughout the budget process we will continue to advocate on behalf of our students, faculty and staff on the various components described below.

Allocable fees

The budget proposal contains a provision for students to opt out of paying allocable fees, which fund services including the UPASS program, “Be on the Safe Side (BOSS)” shuttle service, LGBT+ Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center, and others. UWM students currently pay $459/year in allocable fees, totaling over $10 million/year. If this provision passes and the revenue is reduced, it may be difficult to sustain some of these services in the future.

Budget lapse

A $50M lapse from the 2015-17 biennial budget is included in the proposal. This means that $25M in base funds from each year of the biennium which had been temporarily removed from the previous budget cycle will be returned to UW System (UWS) for allocation among campuses.

Capital budget

On Feb. 21, the Governor announced his 2017-19 proposed capital budget, which addresses facility construction and renovations. Only four of 27 proposed UWS major projects were recommended for funding. Included were UWM’s Northwest Quadrant (NWQ) renovation and Sandburg Residence Hall renovation projects, which would both directly benefit our students. The improvements in NWQ would bring up to code approximately 470,000 unoccupiable square feet, allowing access to desperately needed classroom, research and other academic space. The Sandburg project upgrades plumbing and other infrastructure systems in our largest residence halls. While not all of our requested projects were included in the Governor’s proposed capital budget, the recommendations direct the vast majority of the UWS capital funding in this biennium to UWM.  

Compensation plan

The proposal includes for faculty and staff a 2% compensation increase in Sept. of 2018 and another 2% compensation increase in May of 2019. This means that both increases occur in FY19, with no compensation plan for FY18. The two 2% increases would cost approximately $52M in base funds annually. The budget proposal states funding for the compensation plans would come in part from $20 million in savings in FY18, and $40 million in savings in FY19, from converting to a self-insured health plan, as announced by the Group Insurance Board on Feb. 8. Being self-insured means the state would administer its own health insurance program instead of paying premiums to health insurance companies. For more details about the self-insured structure, please see here.   

Faculty workload

The proposed budget includes a provision for the Board of Regents (Board or BOR) to implement a faculty workload policy. UWM has a Faculty Workload Policy, and efforts continue to ensure consistent use across each school, college and department. If this provision is included in the final budget, UWM will be best poised to advocate for what we want in a Board workload policy if ours is fully implemented and working well.    

Internships and work experience for students

This provision requires undergraduate students first enrolling in the 2018-19 academic year to have an internship or work experience before graduation. As part of the performance metrics (more detail below), we expect to be measured in this area. Offering student placements is something UWM currently does very well. Given our urban location amongst many employers, this is an area we could grow even more to become an exemplar in the UWS. Some internships and career placements currently organized within academic departments are not counted in our totals. Given the direction we are headed to measure these efforts, we must strive to be more coordinated. I have charged Provost Johannes Britz and interim Senior Student Affairs Officer Jim Hill to manage integration in this area, and appreciate everyone’s cooperation.

Performance funding

There is a provision for $42.5M ($21.25M/year) to be distributed based on performance in the following areas:

  • Affordability and attainability (30% of funds)
  • Work readiness (15%)
  • Student success in the workforce (e.g., internships) (30%)
  • Administrative efficiency (10%)
  • Service (5%)
  • Research (10%) 

We will continue to advocate for institutions to be measured against their own performance or that of peers with similar missions and student profiles, not other UW institutions with substantially different missions and student profiles.

Tuition cut

The Governor’s proposal includes a tuition freeze for 2017-18 and a 5% tuition cut for 2018-19, totaling $35M to be funded by the state. The BOR tuition proposal included a freeze for 2017-18 and an increase equivalent to the consumer price index (CPI) for 2018-19, estimated to be about 2%. The proposed tuition cut does not include a provision for the CPI increase, and thus, is a reduction from the figures we had been projecting in our campus budget planning.  

Advocacy plan

As we move through this process, which is expected to conclude in June, we will keep you updated and will continue advocacy via meetings with legislators, regents and influencers, our monthly advertorials in the Milwaukee Business Journal, and other means. I encourage you, using personal time and resources, to share UWM’s story, noting the UWM State Budget Information web site as a source for facts, infographics and the latest news.  

Thank you for engaging in the budget process by staying informed and contributing to the success at UWM through your dedication and commitment.

Best regards, 

Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee