UW Colleagues,

Today, you received a message from Governor Scott Walker about the Budget Repair Bill he will introduce, addressing the State’s budget shortfall in FY 2010-11. Along with many other significant provisions, the bill will include a number of changes to fringe benefits provided to State and UW employees.

These proposed changes to health insurance and retirement plan contributions come at a very challenging time. We have asked you to teach record numbers of students. You’ve done it. We have asked you to help more of those students remain in school and graduate on time. You’ve done it. In every instance, you’ve stepped up to the challenges, all the while receiving reduced salaries, due to mandatory State furloughs.

Governor Walker announced that furloughs will not be included in the upcoming 2011-13 biennial budget. That is welcome news, to be sure. However, increased payments for health insurance and retirement will likely have an even larger effect on most of our UW employees. There may be a time, during the remainder of FY 2011, when employees must absorb both furlough losses and higher fringe payments.

These reductions may be justified by the historic economic downturn, but that does not change the fact that UW campuses entered this recession in a trailing position, unable to offer total compensation packages comparable to our peer universities.

Our University of Wisconsin campuses and our statewide outreach networks must play a central role in the State’s economic resurgence. To do so, we must have the flexibility to use resources wisely, with an eye toward retaining dedicated faculty and staff like you!

It’s time to change the way that Wisconsin’s public universities compete for talent in a competitive national and global marketplace. We believe that universities freed from outdated laws and regulations will grow stronger, while those that remain overly constrained will fall further behind.

We will continue to carry this message statewide, advocating with the Governor and the Legislature for the stable support and increased flexibility that you, your institutions, and all your students need.

Thank you.

– Charles Pruitt, President, UW System Board of Regents
– Kevin P. Reilly, President, UW System