Apr 28, 2015

We discussed the formation of a faculty advocacy entity, MORFS (Milwaukee Organization Representing the Faculty Senate), which is based upon the UW (Madison) group known as PROFS. It will be readied for future use by faculty governance. Chancellor Mone then arrived and we discussed new pessimism regarding any potential “windfall” in state revenues which would potentially moderate the full hit of the proposed cuts.

Senator Larson arrived and we discussed the political dynamics of the budget cuts. He said that we weren’t organizing well enough regarding “getting the message through” to the legislature, and cited the Alverno JFC hearings as a case-in-point.  IRIS funding will likely be restored due to its solid advocacy, but UWM just wasn’t apparent in the crowd. He suggested taking the long view, and to think of “how to win while losing.”  (Shannon Powell, Larson’s Communications Director) told us that we “are under attack,” so we “need a much bigger quantity of things coming in to legislative offices,” and to also think of “the quality of ways to individually address legislators.” “Go to the donor base,” he said. “Seek the people who give to you, and who also give to Republicans.” “There isn’t enough of this, a consistent drumbeat.” “I’ve offered to come work with the Alumni Association, but have only gotten platitudes.” “There is no useful tool on the Panther Advocates that allows easy access to legislators. There isn’t enough coalition building, and the students are not being pressed into service enough.” “Things like “Selfie Campaigns” don’t have any impact whatsoever with the legislators.”

Joint Finance won’t be taking up major issues until after the revenue reports, sometime in early May. UW funding will be at the end of the queue. Senator Larson says, “The action needs to be action now, not merely thinking about it anymore. Contact people and make their voices heard.” We had a great conversation about political and electoral dynamics, and playing to the future. He said, “We need an alternative vision for the future. We are all ambassadors for this state. We need to invest over time in education, and we believe in strong environmental policy. We believe in public education and we believe in good government. That isn’t gone, we just are not moving in that direction.” “We also need to communicate that this is a self-created issue, that we don’t have a state budget shortfall. The funds are there to support public education, if the politicians want to support it.”

He went on to say that there are three major pots of money: 1)  medicaid money, 2) manufacturing & agricultural tax credit  (that is radically increasing and could be stabilized, thus freeing up this give-away), and  3) K-12 school levy tax credit that goes to corporations and out-of-state property owners. This collectively could result in over $700 million that could be used for restoring the proposed UW and K-12 education cuts.

We then discussed Chapter 36… which will come down to the following: 1) mostly eliminate (Governor’s proposal) 2) undo what Governor proposed, 3) other options.  These options will be carefully laid out for legislators by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which is a good thing, since they are non-partisan pragmatists.

We then adjourned.