Dear UW System Colleagues,
Late Friday, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) completed its work on the proposed 2011-13 biennial budget bill, including provisions related to the University of Wisconsin System. Keeping with the budget proposal submitted by Governor Walker, the committee approved a $250-million reduction in state taxpayer support for UW System over the next two years. Legislators offered many significant amendments to the bill, preserving our unified UW System and offering many long-sought administrative flexibilities to all UW institutions.
Here is a brief summary of the JFC amendments:
Here is the official public statement we issued after the committee vote:
People from around the state (including many of you) spoke up in support of preserving a unified UW System that includes UW-Madison, and Legislators listened. UW Regents, Chancellors, and other state leaders argued convincingly in favor of new administrative flexibilities for all UW institutions, and the JFC amendment reflects significant progress in that area. At the same time, however, the combination of reduced funding and capped tuition revenues will put tremendous pressure on every UW institution and every academic department.
Recognizing that pressure, we will continue the process of delegating maximum operational flexibility to every institution in the System. We will also continue to advocate strongly for the wisdom of an integrated system that serves the needs of UW stakeholders with quality, accessibility, and efficiency. The UW System has done that over its 40-year history. With the changes the budget bill will allow us to make, and further changes we will continue to request of the state, all our institutions together can chart a course for the 21st century in the spirit of a renewed Wisconsin Idea.
As the budget bill continues to make its way through the legislative process, we must work to ensure that all new administrative flexibilities from the state remain intact when the bill is signed into law. We must also address some specific areas of concern, such as new language that would undermine the WiscNet network that serves all UW campuses as well as cities, K-12 schools, libraries, hospitals, and hundreds of other members across the state. This same legislative language presents a major threat to several grant-funded partnerships, including the Metropolitan Unified Fiber Network (MUFN) project led by UW-Madison and the Building Community Capacity through Broadband (BCCB) project led by UW-Extension.
We will be reviewing the biennial budget developments with the full Board of Regents on Thursday morning at UW-Milwaukee. That meeting will be webcast live, and you are welcome to tune in for the discussion. A link to the live stream will be posted Thursday morning at wisconsin.edu and at www.twitter.com/uwsystem.
Thank you for your hard work on behalf of the UW, and your attention to these important developments. We will do our best to keep you well informed in the days and months ahead.
—Charles Pruitt, President, UW System Board of Regents
—Kevin P. Reilly, President, UW System