Chancellor’s Update: 2019-21 Biennial and Capital Budgets
The following letter from UWM Chancellor Mark Mone is being shared with alumni, family and friends of UWM
With end of semester activities in full swing, I write with the latest news on Wisconsin’s 2019-21 biennial and capital budgets. With this budget cycle running longer than usual, please look for more updates throughout the summer, and please see the end of this message for actions you can take now.
Latest Updates on Proposed Biennial Budget
Governor Tony Evers announced his proposal for UW System’s (UWS) 2019-21 biennial budget inMarch. Since that time the Wisconsin Legislature has been reviewing the proposal, and the Joint Finance Committee has held public hearings. We have yet to hear the Legislature’s official stance on the Governor’s proposed budget, which included the following terms:
- An increase in annual operational funding for UWS of $43.8M in 2019-20, increasing to $66.2M in 20-21, including:
– $45M over the biennium for capacity-building initiatives to enhance student services and to meet high demand fields such as IT, nursing and STEM; and
– A provision of $5M for student services at two-year campuses, over two years;
– A continuation for two additional years of the tuition freeze for undergraduate residents, but with an allocation to UWS of $50.4M over the same period.
- Funding of $40.4M to cover 70% of the costs of a 2% pay plan increase for UWS employees over the biennium;
- One-time funding of $10M in 2019-20 for financial aid for Ph.D. students in nursing, to encourage nursing students to become nurse educators; and
- A proposal to allow undocumented Wisconsin residents to pay resident UWS tuition rates.
The Governor’s proposal also eliminated performance-based funding programs, which were implemented in the 2017-19 state operating budget and provided $27.5M annually to UWS.
Proposed Capital Budget
The Governor supported the following UWM building and renovation projects in his recommended 2019-21 state capital budget:
- $129M to construct a new chemistry building;
- $40M in infrastructure repairs to the main campus student union; and
- $7M for an annex to the Klotsche Center to improve student recreation and sports offerings.
The chemistry building would be paid with state tax dollars. The Union and Klotsche annex projects are funded through segregated fees already being collected. Neither project will result in future increases to student segregated fees.
The proposed 2% pay plan increase each year of the biennium for our faculty and staff is of UWM’s highest priority in this budget cycle. UWS proposed and the Board of Regents approved a 3% increase in each year, while the Governor’s proposal includes the 2% proposal for each year. We understand the 3% figure was proposed at a time when the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was close to 3%, but the CPI has since dropped. We do not know how this will end, but we are advocating that faculty and staff compensation is critical for UWM to provide the educational, research, and engagement activities that are vital to our region.
We also advocate for the compensation to be fully funded by the state. Historically, tuition increases funded 30% of compensation increases. However, with UW resident undergraduate tuition frozen since 2013-15, we had to fund 30% of the cost of last biennium’s pay plan, which functioned as a budget cut.
If approved by the legislature, UWM plans to distribute 90% of the 2%/2% pay plan based on solid performance, including completion of the two required online trainings on Sexual Violence Prevention and Data Security and Privacy, as well as completion of the Outside Activity Reporting for unclassified employees; and 10% based the Chancellor’s Discretionary Fund for exceptional performance.
Since the start of the year, our advocacy efforts have included meeting with Governor Evers and his staff and 40+ visits with state legislators. Last month, I testified before the Joint Finance Committee hearing in Oak Creek, as did campus leaders, faculty, staff, students, industry partners and alumni. In April, 40 campus and community members participated in Advocacy Day in the Capitol on our behalf. This week, UWM faculty will testify before the state Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families on student transfers and research.
We are currently preparing written materials and arranging personal contacts for many of our area’s strongest advocates to connect with Wisconsin legislators to stress UWM’s budget priorities – compensation, capital projects, capacity-building, and specific operating budget needs.
Next Steps and Your Role
The State Legislature will continue its budget review, resulting in an eventual full debate in both the State Assembly and State Senate. The compensation plan proposal requires an additional approval from the Joint Committee on Employment Relations.
I encourage you to contact your state legislators to share the positive impact UWM has had on you, your family and our community. Ask them to reinvest in us. And, ask your friends and family to join us in speaking out on our behalf. Our State Budget Information web site is continually updated with resources, news and materials for use in advocacy, including:
You can find information about how to connect with your legislator on our Panther Advocates website.
Thank you for your interest in UWM’s budget and your dedication to our students and university. This weekend, I will welcome the newest members of the Panther alumni family as more than 3,000 students will become graduates. I hope that you’ll join me in celebrating their accomplishments, as well as those of our more than 187,000 distinguished alumni worldwide. UWM alumni truly are our most important advocates and we remain grateful for your ongoing support.
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee